We’ve been talking about trends like BYOD, user-centered IT and the consumerization of IT for years now. But most of the discussion has been about devices, security and compliance.

Important topics. But they kind of miss the point.

People today have a digital lifestyle that works. They store content in the cloud, share and remix it with friends, and crowdsource answers on Facebook and LinkedIn. It’s the modern lifestyle we’ve all come to expect – connecting, communicating and collaborating anywhere, anytime on any device.

People aren’t just bringing iPhones to the office, or storing work files on Dropbox. They’re bringing a more engaged and productive lifestyle to work.

It’s what I call workstyle.

Here’s why you should care:

Workstyle Is Here – With You Or Without You

A recent IDG Enterprise report found that 90% of employees use consumer cloud services at work. But 41% of these services are being used without IT approval.

IT either helps businesses adapt to new workstyles or people ignore IT policies to make work happen the way they want and need.

Organizations surveyed by IDG Enterprise anticipate that leveraging consumer technologies at work will create a positive impact on user satisfaction, productivity, process efficiency and collaboration, and business agility.

But the evidence is already in. Companies that have embraced better workstyles improved productivity by 15%, reduced call volumes by 26%, increased sales wins by 12%, and improved customer satisfaction by 25%.

Millennials Demand a Better Workstyle

Today, Millennials make up 36% of the U.S. workforce. By 2025, Millennials will make up 75% of the global workplace. As the first generation to grow up using computers their entire lives, it’s no surprise they expect the same technology experience at work.

But more importantly, Millennials want a better workstyle. According to the Intelligence Group, 88% of Millennials prefer a collaborative work-culture rather than a competitive one. And an equal number want “work-life integration.” This isn’t the same as work-life balance. For Millennials, work and life are inextricably intertwined.

A Better Workstyle Engages All Employees

According to Gallup, disengaged employees outnumber engaged employees nearly 2 to 1, costing the US economy $450 to $550 billion per year.

Gallup studied differences in performance between engaged and actively disengaged employees. Those scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly doubled their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half.

And what if your employees are interacting directly with your customers?

According to Gallup, only 41% of employees felt that they know what their company stands for and what makes its brand different from its competitors.

A better workstyle is essential to increasing employee engagement and understanding of your company’s brand.

Workstyle Connects You With Customers and Partners

Customers and partners want to engage with companies and brands they admire. They want to connect, communicate and collaborate in a robust community.

Businesses that adopt a workstyle compatible with their customers’ lifestyle drive significant business results. According to Gallup, customers who are fully engaged represent a 23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue and relationship growth. While actively disengaged customers represent a 13% discount on the same measures.

Workstyle Is a Massive Opportunity

McKinsey Global Institute says a better workstyle can unlock between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion in value.

McKinsey is usually pretty well informed but even if they’re off by 50% we have a huge opportunity in front of us.

A connected and collaborative workstyle is one of the most effective ways to engage employees, nurture strategic partnerships and stay directly involved with customers.

We need to move beyond BYOD, consumerization of IT and user-centered IT to focus on a better workstyle that delivers business results.

Improving your workstyle isn’t optional. It’s critical to building and maintaining competitive advantage.