Bring Your Own Device: Consider a policy before allowing personal tech in the workplace

Employers need to carefully consider the pros and cons before instituting a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) to work policy, which can include laptops, tablets and smartphones. Once decided, employers should clearly communicate their policy to employees. Asking, or allowing, employees to bring their own devices into the workplace can keep company costs down, but it also raises many questions and concerns regarding legal compliance and security. Consider these advantages – and disadvantages.

Advantages to allowing personal tech

  • Most employees seem happiest using the mobile devices they prefer and are most comfortable using their own, preferring not to switch to a company issued device.
  • As technology constantly changes – and individuals love to get the latest and greatest – personal devices are usually more up-to-date than those issued by the company’s IT Department.
  • Individuals spend many “off-work” hours on their personal devices. When they are checking social media and personal email, that often means they are checking work email too. Employers can expect an increase in employee productivity when an employee’s ability to “work” is with them and in their hands even during leisure hours.
  • Employees take more initiative and responsibility in maintaining and keeping track of their own devices. This means less stress and strain on IT.

Disadvantages: Security, security, security

  • Whether your employee is an account representative, a warehouse supervisor or a portfolio manager, chances are that they have access to company information that you don’t want to be lost, stolen, or accessed by unauthorized individuals.
  • Malware, viruses and fake apps may still be a problem on your IT department’s “to do” list if employees have tech problems and are unable to work from their device.
  • In a work environment where employees use their cell phones at their desks, in meetings, and walking down the hall, it’s virtually impossible to tell how much non-productive personal time is happening at work.

So, do advantages outweigh the disadvantages? Your executive management team will have to make that decision based on your specific workplace needs.

At a minimum, all personal devices should require a password for access, have anti-spyware and anti-virus software installed, and use an approved operating system to access corporate resources. A policy with specific “Dos and Don’ts” is also highly recommended.

If you – or your employees – have already adopted a BYOD practice, be sure to get your policy in place. The BCN professional staff can assist you with sample policies or with customizing a policy to your specific needs.

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Marcus Merillat, IT Manager