Now more than ever, people are inseparable from their electronics. Brimming with notes, calendars, and auto-populated passwords, our devices bring convenience and efficiency to our daily lives – including the time we spend at the office. That’s why many companies have developed BYOD initiatives, allowing employees to bring their own phones, laptops, and tablets to work instead of the usual company-owned devices.
Given the popularity of such initiatives, it’s worth taking a closer look at them. BYOD policies aren’t without their advantages. But there are drawbacks, too – and some organizations are refining their policies regarding personal devices on the job, or redacting them altogether. No matter where your company stands on the issue, consider asking yourself these three questions as you evaluate your own BYOD policies:
1. What are the advantages of a BYOD policy?
Done right, a BYOD policy can save your company money. Equipped with familiar tools, workers feel empowered to complete tasks in less time. They can check in on projects no matter where they are, and have added incentive to keep their electronics safe and well maintained. That translates to saving your company time and resources that would normally go toward purchasing devices and training employees on how to use them.
BYOD policies may also allow companies to benefit from newer technologies faster – for instance, giving employees access to apps that capture expenses or make travel booking more seamless can add up to a tremendous boost in numerous small ways.
Such policies can also free up IT departments, allowing them to focus on important issues that demand extra time. As a result, your organization can benefit from a more stable infrastructure and lower overall costs. A faster internet connection and a more responsive IT department is good news for everyone.
2. What are the drawbacks of allowing personal devices?
From security concerns to complications with expense reports, BYOD policies have a dark side. Allowing employees to access sensitive material from their laptop or tablet could open the door to hacks or damaging leaks, as the security on these devices may be subpar or even nonexistent. Worse, their gadgets might fall into the wrong hands if they are ever lost.
Accounting departments also face new challenges as they try to figure out how to reimburse users for expenses. To complicate things further, new laws have added regulations to BYOD programs that may not be addressed in your organization’s policy. In California, one such law threatens to overturn BYOD policies altogether, as organizations scramble to create budgets and adjust expectations for new expenses.
3. What should my organization include in a BYOD policy?
The evidence against allowing personal devices can seem intimidating, but a good policy can give you the confidence to move forward knowing that you’ve covered your bases. As you create your BYOD policy, consider including:
- A clear outline. Let your workers know which devices and operating systems are acceptable, and which are not. If software required to complete a job won’t work on someone’s device, they’ll have to use a company machine. It’s also reasonable to require them to use the most efficient available method for completing a task.
- A list of approved carrier plans + allowable monthly costs. Plan a budget and avoid nasty surprises by capping allowable monthly costs. That way, you’ll stay in control of spending while allowing your employees the freedom they want.
- A plan for reimbursement. Keep everyone on the same page by suggesting several different reimbursement methodologies and letting employees choose which one works best for them.
- Ongoing oversight. Don’t let your policy get stale. Keep it current by updating it regularly based on new laws, or what works best for your organization.
Whether you say “yes” or “no” to BYOD, the only mistake you can make is not thinking it through and making a policy that suits the needs of your organization. Careful planning, reasonable expectations, and a policy in writing can help make your choices a success.