Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) Policies — Benefits and Best Practices
Bring your own device policies encourage employees to use their own phones, computers, and tablets for work purposes. While some businesses have had similar policies in place for years, the practice became more widespread with the rise of affordable smartphones and the prevalence of VoIP and cloud storage. Today, an estimated 59% of businesses have BYOD policies in place, making it more important than ever before to make sure your company has a plan in place.
There are many ways that bring your own device policies can benefit businesses and their employees:
- Cost savings: The obvious benefit of BYOD is that businesses save money on equipment without sacrificing productivity. Money not spent on equipping your team with new laptops, tablets, or phones can be put towards other improvements or passed on to staff in the form of bonuses or technology stipends.
- Ease of use: With BYOD, your employees get to work with a device they already know and are comfortable with. This means fewer avoidable mistakes and less time and effort spent onboarding new employees when your organization expands.
- Availability: When staff members use their personal phone or mobile device for work, they will be more available to respond to messages outside the office. That translates to increased productivity and less danger of missing out on time-sensitive opportunities.
- Reduced maintenance: BYOD policies give employees the freedom to use their preferred devices for work — and transfers the responsibility of upkeep to them. As a result, staff members have a vested interest in keeping their devices secure and up-to-date. This frees up your IT department to work on other projects without affecting performance or functionality.
BYOD policies aren’t right for every organization, though they are becoming increasingly widespread in many industries, including real estate, tourism, and finance.
Despite the benefits of BYOD, there are a few drawbacks businesses should consider before adopting the policy in their workplace. As mobile technology becomes less expensive, for some applications it can be more cost-effective to purchase equipment outright rather than subsidizing an employee’s personal phone. As well, some employees may resist the idea of installing enterprise software or proprietary apps on their device.
The main drawback to BYOD is that it can potentially make your data less secure. If an employee doesn’t install the latest updates or if they lose their device outside of the office, it puts your information at risk and creates the possibility of unauthorized access to protected accounts. This is the main reason why BYOD policies are not as widely accepted in heavily-regulated sectors such as healthcare, energy, and government.
BYOD Best Practices
Though the security risks associated with BYOD are real, they’re not insurmountable. Developing a comprehensive BYOD policy — and giving employees access to the training and resources necessary to keep their devices safe — can mitigate the potential for a data breach. Your BYOD policy should include rules for updating software patches and changing passwords regularly. It should also specify what to do and who to inform if your device is stolen or compromised. If sensitive data is involved, it may be necessary to segregate specific apps to minimize exposure.
The Bottom Line on BYOD
BYOD policies are becoming more widespread thanks to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) calls, cloud storage, and other technologies designed for facilitating communication and making data available on the go. While there are many benefits to encouraging staff to use their own devices, there are drawbacks as well, including security risks. However, with clearly-outlined protocols in place, organizations can minimize risk while still enjoying the many advantages offered by a BYOD-friendly workplace.