BYOD – or ‘Bring Your Own Device’ is a new approach to IT tech that many, notably smaller, businesses are taking.
On the surface, it might sound like nothing more than a cost-saving mechanism – but actually, a lot of employees want to work on their own devices – so should you be encouraging BYOD in your business? Do you have the right security in place to allow it? What are the cost implications? Is it safe?
We’ll take a look at a series of pros and cons associated with BYOD – and hopefully, give you some help in deciding whether it would work for your organization…
Pros of BYOD
There’s no doubt about it, we often feel the most comfortable using our own devices – we know how our phone works (sometimes without even looking at it) and we’ve got a variety of accessories that connect us to them.
Employees are often more productive when they’re using their own devices too, even small time-saving habits here and there add up over the course of a working day. In fact, a 2017 study showed that productivity can be up as much as 38% when people are familiar with their devices – that’s the equivalent of having 4 people for the price of 3…
It’s highly likely that your employees have the latest gadgets – where your organization couldn’t ever hope to stay on top of expensive tech changes right across the board.
As such, BYOD means you’re at the cutting edge of tech – even if it doesn’t belong to you.
There isn’t a business owner or decision maker in the world who would begrudge wiping that enormous ‘IT Equipment’ line off the capital expenditure report. In fact, it represents one of the largest spends any company will make – and it comes around very quickly.
When employees use their own devices, they also foot the bill, meaning you’ve got increased finances to put into other parts of the business – including incentives for your staff kindly using their own tech.
When employees use their own devices, they’re also likely to leave the office with them in their bag – which is more than can be said for the desktops you’d be providing as an alternative.
As this is the case, you massively increase the number of people who’ll continue working on the train home, when they’ve finished their dinner that evening – or even early in the morning to get ahead for the day. While it can’t be expected, it’s a nice bonus if it happens – and can encourage some favorable flexible working agreements.
Because an employee is balancing work and leisure on their machine, they’re likely to be more organized than they would be with a dedicated work PC or phone. It’s human nature to look after and respect the things that have cost us – so expect more organized working and, even if you’re happy to foot the bills for support, less damaged or misused equipment.
Cons of BYOD
Can your network cope?
Whether or not your network is suitable for a BYOD workplace is a two-fold consideration – firstly, do you have the bandwidth to ensure all these different devices can access everything they’re trying to when they need it?
Secondly – is your network able to accommodate these devices? It’s likely that you’re going to need a hybrid network that allows for both wired and wireless connection to this potentially unlimited range of devices. This article provides some useful best practices for managing such a network.
While these definitely add to employee comfort that comes from BYOD practice, there’s also the chance that you’ll have no one similar device across your network – so ask yourself (and in particular, your IT department) whether your network and applications can accommodate such a wide range of devices and operating systems.
This lack of consistency can also have an impact on training too – the applications you use might look entirely different one device to the next.
Is it safe?
A significant factor choosing to roll out a BYOD plan is whether or not you decide it to be safe.
Firstly, you need to ensure that employees have enterprise standard security software on their device. This is likely to require coordination from the company point of view, but by doing so, you ensure that company data on the device is encrypted, passwords are secure, applications can only be accessed with the appropriate credentials and much more.
What leaves the office?
The new GDPR data protection regulation in the EU (and beyond) is seeing companies reviewing exactly what data can be accessed and where – and this can be a problem for BYOD.
While you might get to lock your office door and leave your storage servers safely tucked behind their firewall, the same isn’t true for the iPads, smartphones, and laptops that are leaving to make the journey home. One oversight can see such a device picked up or stolen – and then suddenly, your systems can be accessed by whoever’s in possession of the device.
Of course, this doesn’t have to be the same, you can lock down devices, apps, and data – but if you’re trusting employees with access, you need to make sure they follow the guidelines all of the time.
Do employees mind?
While people overwhelmingly like the idea of BYOD, that’s not to say that everyone likes it – for some people, there’s a definite line between work and home, one which they don’t want their devices to cross.
What’s more, some employees don’t like the idea that a company could access their device without them knowing. Be prepared to allay these concerns – or look at alternative arrangements for people who want to keep work life in the office.
Mixing business and pleasure
Even if your employees don’t mind the idea of BYOD, that doesn’t mean that business and pleasure can mix safely on the same device. Does an accidental text to the wrong number expose your company as playing fast and loose with customer data? Would it expose your employees to problems if people know they can access them at all hours with the tech they’re using?
Of course, there are safeguards to ensure these things don’t happen – but when personal and professional life mix on the same machine, there’s always going to be the chance that some overspill will occur.
Photo credit: The feature image “Piggy bank and Smartphone” was done by Simple Texting, optimistic looking woman was done by Alexandr Ivanov, shadows showing doubt was done by Anemone123, and GDPR graphic was done by Pete Linforth.
Editorial notice: This post has been sponsored.