BYOD, bring your own device, isn’t just a buzzword anymore; it’s a reality in many companies around the world today. A study of 600 IT employees performed by Cisco found that 95 percent of companies now practice one form or another of BYOD policy. As an employer, understand the advantages, risks and impact on employees that implementing a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy at your company can entail.
BYOD policies create a productive and cost-efficient corporate culture. Having employees supply and use their own devices cuts costs for the employer in the form of time spent updating company-wide hardware as well as providing the devices themselves. Productivity can skyrocket when employees can work from anywhere at anytime. Employees who use a single mobile device for both work tasks and personal use average an additional 240 more hours of work a year, a study by mobile vendor iPass found.
Additionally, employees themselves often prefer to use their own devices, and more often than not already own some form of cutting-edge mobile device. Fifty-three percent of those surveyed in mature markets approved of ‘Bring Your Own Device‘ policies because they felt that it allowed them to do their job better, statistics recently published by Kaizen Factory note. Employees are likely to buy devices for themselves that make them happy and are easy to use, thus improving morale and general attitude towards IT and management.
BYOD policies are not without risk. Legal issues emerge when company intellectual property and sensitive information is stored, accessed and processed on mobile devices that are not carefully regulated by an employer. Employee access to company data stores on unprotected or unencrypted devices could lead to an accidental leak of confidential information that could cost an employer dearly.
Data loss by malicious malware or hacked devices is one of the larger risks that arise when employees bring their own, non-standardized devices to access company data. While Apple regularly implements software and security updates across their entire mobile platform suite, CRN notes that Android OS users often are forced to rely on their specific mobile carrier or device manufacturer to release an update for a known vulnerability or security loophole.
By creating a BYOD policy that addresses what devices are allowed as well as addresses what types of access are allowed, employers can set standards that employees must live up to if they want to participate in BYOD programs. Addressing the need for employees to only use encrypted connections as opposed to open Wi-Fi in a policy can prevent accidental data loss, as well addressing mandatory security software is equally necessary to a firm and responsible BYOD policy. Symantec.com suggests a company:
- Identifies business goals
- Analyzes existing policies to frame the new policy
- Defines device requirements, stipends and payments
Clearly addressing privacy concerns, such as how much access an employer has to supervise the use of a personal device, prevents legal issues from arising later. Having a policy that outlines such issues and requiring that employees understand and sign it protects an employer and employee should a falling out occur over device use. A contract that outlines the policies in clear language and is mandatory for participation in your companies BYOD program is a must for companies who want to leverage the many benefits of Bring Your Own Device culture in their organization.