A growing list of companies, including Netflix and Kraft Foods, are breaking the IT tradition of closely guarding their computing environment and allowing employees to use their own devices in the workplace. A more traditional approach includes a network comprised entirely of purchased computers (often underpowered to stay within budget) that operate under specific software and hardware parameters. This means every employee, regardless of their level of experience or computing needs, is required to run under a specific version of a specific operating system. Here are five reasons companies should allow employees to use their own equipment:

You’re More Productive When You Know the System You’re Working On

If the user comes from a house of Macs and the company runs Windows, this could impact performance. Even if it’s to a small degree, the employee has to spend extra energy remembering a difference in keystrokes and file placement. While this may not be a long-term issue, the ability for an employee to hit the ground running and know exactly what they need to do to get the job done is a time and money saver for the company. Bottom line: a worker works best with something they know. When they know the file system, capabilities, and software profile of the system on which they are working, productivity has a greater chance of improvement.

Information Technology Cost Reduction

One clear advantage to allowing employees to provide their own equipment is that they also provide their own system support. By placing the responsibility of repair in the hands of the employee, this frees up your IT department to concentrate on the health of the network and support for employees who are using company-owned equipment. This can lead to more innovation on the part of IT and improved efficiency within your company as a whole.

Lower Equipment Costs

In the case of Kraft Foods, employees receive a stipend that assists in the purchasing of their own equipment. Because the systems purchased using the stipend belong to the employee, the bulk of the financial burden is placed on the employee. Companies spend small fortunes on taxes for every piece of equipment owned by the business, and this could also mean huge quarterly savings. This money could be allocated to more profitable areas of the business including marketing and research, or passed on to the customer in savings.

Better Employee Availability

Implementing a work-from-home program is most difficult when company equipment is involved. Logistics, support, and maintenance are difficult for an IT department when equipment is out of reach. By allowing employees to use their own machines to access a remote network or virtual computing environment, they can work from wherever they are. Telecommuting workers save the business money in many different ways.

Happier Employees

Five Advantages to Allowing Employees to Use Their Own EquipmentBottom line: employees are happiest when they feel some sense of control over their work. Having an employee report to an assigned desk and work on an assigned (and controlled) machine in addition to the multitude of different challenges they face during the day can be a real morale killer. For many workers, having control and ownership over a major aspect of their daily work environment gives them an improved outlook on their job, and in turn increases their efficiency and quality.

With every upside, there are downsides to consider. Some offices work under incredible industry restrictions, so this may not work for every business. Large corporations have a difficult job ahead of them, especially if they deal with government agencies and financial accounts where security is a primary concern. For many businesses, simple virtual networking and remote desktop software can provide plenty of security, and keep important data in the hands of IT while allowing the employee to complete their task from their desk or at home.