By Mandi Rogier
BYOD, or bring-your-own-device, is a new type of policy that’s gaining popularity in businesses across many industries. Nearly every type of business uses technology in some form or fashion, whether it’s a cell phone that keeps account managers in touch with clients or a tablet that helps a designer sketch new projects. BYOD policies allow employees to use their own personal devices for these professional purposes.
How BYOD Works
BYOD programs allow employees to use their own laptops, tablets, and smartphones in the workplace for business purposes. This gives employees the power to choose which devices they’re most comfortable using. This can eliminate some of the challenging learning curve associated with adopting new technology for everyone in the office. BYOD is a relatively new concept, but it’s gaining popularity quickly. This type of policy allows employees to easily work both in the office and out. It facilitates easier telecommuting and usually increases productivity.
Official BYOD programs are already in place for 53% of organizations according to Microsoft’s Trust in Technology survey. However, 67% of employees indicated that they’re already using their own technology for work purposes, whether the company condones it or not. This presents an interesting situation. For companies to keep up security, they must know what devices get access to their information. Implementing some type of BYOD policy is necessary in any business where employees might use personal devices to get access to sensitive or confidential documents.
The Benefits of BYOD
There are many benefits of implementing an official BYOD policy in the workplace. Many companies find that productivity increases with BYOD programs because employees are able to work from home. When a project needs a few extra hours of attention, it’s easier for employees to head home on time, enjoy dinner with the family, and get back to the project on their own time in the evening than it is to stay at the office long into the night.
BYOD also allows employees to choose the devices they’re most comfortable with. If one employee prefers a laptop with a big screen while another is more comfortable with a small tablet, there’s no need to ask one to compromise. Both can choose the device that best suits his personal strengths. This is a great way to empower your employees to work in the way that they’re most comfortable.
A bring your own device program can also save the company money on technology. Before you settle on BYOD for the financial benefits alone, however, you must consider all sides of the program. While the company will pay less for the devices themselves, it may need to pay a little more for IT services.
Drawbacks of BYOD
Security is by far the biggest drawback to a BYOD program. Devices used outside the company’s secure network pose many risks. Employees typically use their personal devices for non-work purposes such as downloading media or playing games. These activities make the device more vulnerable to viruses. If anti-virus software isn’t well-managed, even regular Internet browsing will pose a risk.
Internal documents and proprietary information are at risk when employees have access from home. It’s important for the company to put specific policies in place for the use and sharing of this type of information. The rules and regulations that govern the BYOD program are one of the most important considerations for a company opting into one.
IT support can present some challenges with a bring your own device policy as well. Employees often expect the same level of support they would get on company devices even though they’re using their own technology. Your IT staff will need to adapt to a very different type of environment when you start allowing employees to bring their own devices.
Done right, BYOD is a great option for many businesses. Your employees will appreciate the freedom associated with this type of program, and your well-crafted policies governing personal technology will allow safe and monitored access to company programs and information.
Mandi Rogier writes regularly on business and technology topics. Many blogs and websites feature her pieces.