4 policy suggestions to protect your business when employees bring their smartphones, tablets or laptops to work
Like an old friend, we come to know what to expect from our favourite devices, such as a smartphone, tablet or computer. It never disappoints us. And that comfort makes us more productive in our business.
Your employees feel the same way about their devices. That’s created a huge shift away from enterprise-supplied technology to ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policies that allow employees to use their favourite machines at work.
- Research firm Gartner predicts half of all employers will insist employees supply their own devices by 2017.
Given some common-sense precautions, you just might decide there’s more advantage than disadvantage to adopting your own BYOD policy. The advantages to your business include:
- Lower technology costs as employees pay for their own devices.
- Service plans are already in place – the employee is subscribed to a wireless and data package. You might pay them for work-related usage.
- Eliminate technology training costs. It’s their device, so employees already know how to use it.
- Productivity boost. Comfort with the device helps the employee to get more work done. And, they may do a bit of work after hours because they now can.
4 policies for BYOD When companies own the technology employees use, they enjoy a certain element of control and safety because the employer gets to make the rules. That doesn’t have to change when employees own the technology. To help you create your own BYOD plan, review these common employer concerns and the matching policy suggestions.
- Concern: An employee loses their device containing your business data. Policy: Insist on remote wipe capabilities so the employee can immediately remove any sensitive information.
- Concern: Business files stored on employee devices. You fear losing central control of files and documents scattered across multiple devices. Policy: Cloud storage. While you may permit downloads to employee devices, the original file should reside safely in the cloud where you and others can retrieve it. You might also include a list of company-sanctioned apps in your BYOD policy (such as Basecamp, Salesforce or Box) to ensure everyone is using the same technology.
- Concern: Blurring the line between work and personal activities. An employee may be tempted to dash off a personal email, take a personal call, or update their Facebook page while at work. Policy: Honour system. It can be difficult to monitor employee activity, and you shouldn’t have to. Quality employees will do the work as expected. Practice a little flexibility – remember that employees may now elect to do some work after business hours using their own device.
- Concern: Data and information ownership. Policy: The employee owns the device, but you own the information. Make that clear in your employment contract. And communicate what happens to that information when an employee leaves your business; for example, you may want to immediately erase all archived messages.
Speak with a qualified Information Technology expert to explore solutions for your particular business.
It may be in your best interest to consider partially reimbursing the employee for usage costs. For example, you could pay a portion of the employee’s wireless or data plan charges.
While there are some security concerns to address, you can protect your business by designing clear and fair BYOD policies and promoting compliance to employees. Research some BYOD policies to pick up other tips that may work well for your particular business. And, ask your telecommunications supplier about technology solutions to support your policy.
At the end of the day, a BYOD policy will contribute to a happier, more productive workforce because employees are thrilled to be able to do their work their way.