Advances in mobile technology have made it easier than ever to maintain a single device for both work and personal use. And employees often appreciate the convenience of not having to manage two separate devices. But is BYOD the right move for your company?BYOD is more than just a trend; it’s fast becoming the norm in mobile business communication. The move to BYOD brings plenty of advantages for employers, some of which might apply to your company. The first of these is cost savings. Not having to purchase mobile phones and hardware or pay for monthly service can be a huge boost to your bottom line. Of course, you may choose to subsidize a portion of the employee’s bill.
Employees are also typically more comfortable using their personal devices. Not everyone is tech-savvy, and having to master and manage only one phone or tablet is a huge help for such employees. Additionally, having your team use their own devices makes it easier for them to work remotely and stay connected when necessary, which in turn can bring increased productivity. Just be careful that your employees are paid for all hours worked as required under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act—including those hours worked "off the clock" when checking email on a smartphone outside of regular working hours. Finally, apps and cloud storage now enable employees to seamlessly access and perform work across multiple devices and platforms.
That being said, employee use of personal devices comes with serious considerations that must be weighed and addressed. The most significant of these is, of course, security—including the loss of private and sensitive data and the possibility of malware. Depending on your industry and the state in which you operate, your company may be subject to specific laws governing data breaches and the protection of sensitive information, so your first step before implementing a BYOD policy should be a consultation with legal counsel to identify any compliance issues.
Your employees should have secure credentials and passwords to access company servers and information, and they should also agree to keep their devices locked and ready to be disabled in case of loss or theft. There’s also the chance that photos or videos on an employee’s phone could pose a security threat to the company, such as images of a product or design. While there are limits on how much your IT department can monitor an employee’s private device, you may wish to restrict the use of these devices for taking pictures for work purposes. You should also require employees to use only secure Wi-Fi networks, and ask them to regularly update their apps. An out-of-date app on a smartphone can be an open window through which cybercriminals can access the information on your corporate server.
Managing these issues will require that you have solid tech support in place, either on-staff or by contract. Your IT team can help determine which types of devices will support the activities you need, and help stay on top of securing your sensitive data and servers.
Finally, if you offer the option of BYOD to employees, draft a policy that covers what you expect employees to do to limit the risk of a breach and the consequences of failure to comply with those requests. The policy should also outline post-employment issues, such as how employee access to email, data and servers will be shut off when an employee leaves the organization, and in the case the purchase of the device was subsidized, who will retain physical ownership of the device at that time. The employee should sign the policy and a copy should be placed in his or her personnel file.
No policy can limit all risks of a breach via employees’ personal devices, but putting these measures in place will go a long way toward securing private and sensitive data, and letting you—and your employees—reap the benefits of BYOD. To stay ahead of the latest topics and trends in HR and employee management, visit us online at HR360.com.