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What’s your company’s BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy?

Tuesday September 1st, 2015

Estimated time to read: 1 minute, 45 seconds

Should employees be allowed to use their own smart phones, tablets and laptop computers at the office? What type of guidelines or restrictions should there be, especially concerning utilization of company resources and transmission of information from/to these personal mobile devices? How much remote access should be allowed or encouraged for employees to conduct job activities or communicate about work with these devices during time away from the office?

Within the last five years or so we have seen an incredible explosion in the use of mobile technology, and it would now be difficult to find many companies where employees’ personal mobile devices are not in use on the job to some extent. How would traveling and telecommuting staff even function without including their iPads, iPhones, Android devices or laptops in their daily routines? Employers who have not yet developed a clear set of guidelines for BYOD may be asking for trouble and missing out on opportunities.

The downside

Some of the negatives of BYOD are more obvious than others. Allowing employees’ unrestricted use of their personal mobile devices on company time may invite such distractive abuse of the privilege as continuous personal texting, emailing, social media engagement, playing games, keeping up with Kim and her clan or even worse.

Other disadvantages of BYOD leniency may include:

  • Security risks and vulnerability of data and company resources
  • The burden of tracking offsite time for compensation and benefits
  • Monitoring and enforcement challenges
  • Adversely affecting company network functioning from added devices
  • Potential loss of data or customers from departing employees
  • Possible liability and legal issues from misuse

The positives

Properly harnessing the power and flexibility of personal devices for work can actually result in greater productivity, improved communication and enhanced employee job satisfaction.

Many employers benefit from the greater staff and employee/customer communication that can be provided by BYOD. Employees also appreciate being trusted to go mobile when necessary or desired and having the ability to handle certain administrative tasks at their convenience.

Savvy mobile users may even boost company efforts by discovering and implementing creative solutions with mobile productivity and utility apps and by elevating the company’s profile through approved social media engagement. Companies may save money on equipment when relying more on employees’ personal devices, which are more familiar to them and often more current.

Safeguards and policies

By implementing clear policies and certain safeguards, employers can maximize the advantages of BYOD while minimizing the drawbacks associated with the use of personal devices in the workplace. Recommended actions include:

  • Allowing employees to use and connect their devices at work only after passing a security clearance.
  • Implementing employee logins and passwords so all devices used on company time and property can be tracked as needed.
  • Clarifying wage and hour rules for compensable time for non-exempt employees.
  • Discussing the details of policies and restrictions for the use of personal devices at work and requiring each employee’s signature in agreement with the rules.

Employers that are proactive in creating BYOD policies and procedures may have the advantage when looking for new talent and retaining top talent.