Forget that tired old claim that Gen Y workers are clashing with their bosses over access to Twitter and the right to use a Mac rather than a Windows PC. It's also possible that bosses are cannily using bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies as a sneaky way to avoid giving you a raise.
Picture by Spencer Platt/Getty Images
We've noted before that BYOD is becoming more common in the workplace, often starting with laptops and then spreading to mobile phones. While many businesses still have BYOD bans because of support concerns, technology companies have increasingly embraced them, though often with the trade-off that people have to support their own devices rather than relying on the company helpdesk.
That in itself represents a trade-off that people don't always think through. If you're spending time maintaining technology which is essential to your job, then the time to actually perform your key tasks falls off. But there's another potential trade-off: your employee might offer flexibility and device choice but not pay you as generously.
This issue came up at a press briefing hosted by Cisco's chief technology officer Kevin Bloch. Cisco itself introduced a BYOD policy back in 2004, and found that its engineers in particular rapidly migrated to Macs. Indeed, Bloch calculates that Cisco is now the world's second-largest corporate user of Apple gear (after Apple itself).
Bloch noted that the ability to choose run their preferred machines made engineers happy, and that in turn meant that disputes over pay were less common. "With engineers it's not all about the money," he said. "We gave then Macs and all these salary issues disappeared."
Hopefully, no-one is going to say "I'm so happy with being able to choose my own technology, I won't bother to find out if I'm being paid reasonably." Salary decisions are rarely so black and white. But it is something to watch out for.
BYOD is becoming more normal: as Bloch put it, "With BYOD it's game over. It's happened' the question now for businesses is what are you going to do?" But that doesn't mean other considerations shouldn't come into play when you're thinking about a new job.
A similar caution applies to the perennial conflict over whether staff should have access to social networking services on workplace machines. A large number of businesses do have bans in place, though their effectiveness is questionable given how many of us can just use our smartphones to access the same services. Cisco's own research suggests that one-third of people under 30 would be willing to take a lower-paid job if they had access to social media services.
Again, money isn't the sole consideration. A company that recognises the potential business value of social networking might well prove a more satisfactory employer, since it's less likely to have other questionable restrictions. Again, though, it's something to watch out for.
Have you been offered 'soft' benefits such as your choice of device rather than a pay rise? Tell us in the comments.
Evolve is a weekly column at Lifehacker looking at trends and technologies IT workers need to know about to stay employed and improve their careers.