One of the biggest trends to impact the workplace in recent years has undoubtedly been the introduction of personal devices. It’s become commonplace for today’s employees to perform work-related activities using their smartphones, tablets and other personal devices, both in the office as well as on the go. More and more businesses are taking advantage of the many benefits BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) can have, and most employees are more than happy to jump onboard.
Let’s take a look at what these benefits are, some of the challenges that BYOD adopters face and what can be done to overcome them.
Benefits of BYOD
- Greater productivity. Empowering employees to be able to work whenever and wherever they’re most productive delivers an instant boost. Furthermore, some research indicates that employees who are able to use their own devices to perform work are more likely to work outside of regular office hours.
- Improved morale. By giving employees more freedom and adaptability, they’ll have more positive opinions about their role and their employer. Happier workers mean lower turnover, which is better for the company’s bottom line.
- Lower costs. When employees are willing to use their own devices for work purposes, the company can save money on the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining hardware.
- Staying relevant. Most people stay on top of the latest technologies that are available (i.e. upgrading to the latest version of their smartphone, etc.). This indirectly helps the organization also stay up-to-date and relevant from a technology perspective.
- Greater work-life balance. With more flexibility and the opportunity to work remotely, employees can enjoy a greater balance between their professional and personal lives.
Concerns About BYOD
While all of these benefits are real, there are also a number of pressing concerns related to the adoption of BYOD – namely around security. For instance, companies considering the implementation of a personal device policy must take the following potential issues into account:
- Higher security risk. It’s much easier for a hacker to gain entry to a corporate network via an unsecured BYOD device. This must be seriously addressed across the board.
- Stolen or lost devices. Should an employee inadvertently misplace his or her device or have it stolen, the information contained within could be placed at great risk.
- Apps and other downloads. Some applications could potentially be harmful to a corporate network. Employees may not even realize this until it’s too late.
- Unsecure connections. The ability to access the corporate network from anywhere opens up the risk of employees using unsecure connections, such as the free Wi-Fi at the local coffee shop.
- Terminated or disgruntled employees. Allowing employees to have access to proprietary or sensitive data via their own personal devices can become detrimental in the event that someone gets fired and/or becomes vindictive.
What Can Be Done?
While there are certainly some noteworthy security risks associated with BYOD, this doesn’t mean businesses shouldn’t still consider adopting such a policy. The important thing is to plan carefully and strategically so that these potential issues can be avoided. Company leaders looking to get the most out of a BYOD policy must take certain steps, such as the following:
- Develop a detailed policy with guidelines for all employees participating in BYOD.
- Invest in ongoing education to ensure all individuals using their personal devices know how to keep them secure.
- Beef up security measures to keep the network protected from potential cyber-attacks, including appropriate software and device-level encryption.
- Require all personal devices being used for business purposes be registered with ID and protected with passwords or PINs.
- Conduct regular, in-depth assessments of the company’s overall risk profile to identify and address areas of vulnerability.
When executed and managed properly, a BYOD policy can do wonders for any organization. What do you think? Have you had experience with personal device policies? What advice might you give to others on how to make such a strategy work? Please share in the comments below.