The Case for Letting Employees Choose Their Own Technology

Google chief information officer Ben Fried told the Wall Street Journal that he thinks employees should be able to choose their own technology rather than being forced to use a common standard.

His reasoning: “So much of the culture stems from how we work. Back in the day, people came to work to learn how to use technology. Now everyone knows how to use technology.”

He also noted that with so much work being done in the cloud, it really doesn’t matter what kind of device an employee uses to access the cloud.

Explained Fried: “I remember years ago, when I joined Google, I looked at the personal technology that Google gave to its people. Google allowed people to use whatever they thought was relevant to them, when everyone else gave people a black laptop and a BlackBerry and said, ‘You are going to do it our way.’ I think that CIOs need to understand the cultural thing—they define the culture of their company by the technology they give to their employees.”

He added: “The right thing to do is to help people be as productive as possible, and the way to do that is…to understand the toolset that people who come to work every day know how to use…and want to use. To the best of your ability, you need to give them that toolset. When you do that, it creates a completely different organizational culture.”

Fried notes that when people feel like they aren’t part of the decision-making process, “they feel treated like children, they feel resentful and you find examples of belligerent compliance. When people feel like they have had a say, like they have been empowered, you get collaboration and cooperation.”

Interestingly, ZDNet notes Google’s IT support costs “are below industry average and have gone down proportionally even as the company’s headcount has ballooned.”