IT assets and equipment continue to be a significant expense for companies, which is why the concept of BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, has become increasingly attractive. When employees bring their own devices, companies save money on the purchase and maintenance of IT assets and avoid Many businesses are allowing and encouraging their employees to bring their own devices to work and use them to complete their work during flex time or remotely.
However, there are security risks associated with the practice. Companies don’t have control over the security measures their employees do (or don’t) take, which in turn can leave companies vulnerable. On the other hand, aside from issuing a policy against the practice, there really isn’t a way to stop your employees from using their mobile devices for work. Due to the 24/7 nature of our work, it’s likely that they’re doing so anyway and therefore putting your company at potential risk. With that reality in mind, then, should you create a formal BYOD policy, and what should you keep in mind when establishing any such guidelines?
Why Are BYOD Policies Attractive?
BYOD policies allow employees to be flexible, and there are reports that using personal devices for work increases employee satisfaction and productivity, as well as makes the company more attractive to job seekers. Companies may experience cost savings through such policies, as employees cover the costs not only for their mobile devices but also the IT support required to maintain them.
You Need a Device Policy Even if You Don’t Support BYOD
Employees bring their devices to work either way. You should have a device policy in place even if you have no plans to allow employees to complete work on personal devices. If you do provide devices, it’s important to ensure that they are properly maintained so that employees can use them efficiently for their work tasks. Tracking the use and maintenance schedules of those devices is something employees can take part in.
If you don’t adopt new workplace technology quickly enough, employees may start bringing their personal devices to access updated convenience features and power.
The Security Risks of BYOD
BYOD is associated with a host of dangers. Employees take their devices home and log in to work apps on unsecured networks or use poor password protection. Their devices may be lost or stolen. Employees open phishing emails on their devices, acquiring viruses and malware due to poor browsing safety. Work and personal data may become mixed. An employee’s friends and family members may also compromise the company’s security if they use the device. One of the most significant issues related to BYOD is that it can be hard to know who is logging in to work systems on what device, from where, and how well each employee controls access to their devices. One option is to ask employees to opt-in to register and secure their devices with the company.
We live in the digital age, and personal devices are increasingly capable of connecting to anything. When this happens, they immediately become a security risk.
Productivity Concerns Over BYOD
Compare the evidence for increased productivity vs decreased productivity with BYOD. Often it depends greatly on the culture and employees. Device usage can be moderated with policies and expectations can be set.
How to Tell if BYOD is Right For Your Business
Think about the type of work employees perform and where. Weigh the advantages and risks. Reduce the risks of BYOD by asking employees to opt-in to having devices tracked while they’re on the clock, or provide alternatives to BYOD by issuing devices which you can keep track of more easily. Should you decide to move forward with a BYOD policy, you’ll want to establish a cross-functional team to draw it up, including representation not just from your IT team, but also Human Resources and Legal. You’ll want to consider what will happen when an employee leaves your company. For example, will she keep her phone number? Those expectations should be detailed in clear terms in your BYOD policy to avoid confusion.
It might be tempting to go for a BYOD policy in order to avoid the hassle of keeping track of company-owned devices issued to employees, but that might create more problems than it solves, potentially blurring the lines between your company and employees with respect to equipment ownership, liability, and appropriate use.
There are pros and cons associated with any BYOD policy. Your decision should be based not just on dollars and cents, but on the unique dynamics of your organization – including the relationship and level of transparency you maintain with your employees.
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