BYOD in the Workplace
What You Need to Know

If you have ever seen a rotary phone in person – perhaps in an antique store or maybe tucked away in a closet in your grandmother’s house – you may have laughed or looked at it like a museum relic. It’s kind of amazing to think about how far communications technology has come in a relatively short amount of time.

One rapidly growing trend in businesses is BYOD or Bring Your Own Device.  More specifically, it means employees using their own devices for both personal and business use.  The most prevalent of course,  is the use of a smartphone.

Why the trend?

Quite simply, because productivity at work has become location independent as employees and their employers want to be able to be reached anytime and anywhere.  Adding to that is the fact that most people have multiple email accounts and smartphone applications for business and personal use which can make carrying two phones a nuisance.

BYOD statistics (Source: Insight.com)

The following statistics help one fully understand the impact of BYOD in the workplace and serve to demonstrate the widespread adoption of this technology.

  • The BYOD market is on target to reach nearly $367 billion by 2022, up from just $30 billion in 2014 (BetaNews).
  • 59% of organizations allow employees to use their own devices for work purposes. Another 13% have plans to allow use within a year, (Tech Pro Research).
  • 87% of companies rely on their employees to use personal devices to access business apps (Syntonic).
  • As of 2016, six out of 10 companies had a BYOD-friendly policy in place (Syntonic).

BYOD Benefits

Cost Savings and Productivity

Devices can be expensive. According to a report by Cisco, companies with a BYOD policy in place save on average $350 per year, per employee.

For Small to Medium Businesses (SMBs), this adds up fast and the productivity improvements can also be tremendous.

Freedom of Operation and Happy Employees

The nature of the BYOD trend gives employees more freedom over how they work. It provides the ability to access information, files, and applications from personal devices thereby providing greater flexibility.

No longer tied down to a desk or office hours, employees have the option to work from various mobile devices in various locations.  It makes the entire workflow mobile and easy.

Attract and Retain Talent

Today’s generation of workers grew up as mobile internet and  application savvy  consumers.  The degree of comfort and familiarity associated with using personal devices is a benefit today’s employees often expect.  It allows them to stay engaged and take ownership of their work.

If you are going to allow BYOD – You Need a Policy

Key Policy Features (source: Society for Human Resource Management)

As with any good policy, one which targets BYOD must be written, clear, and comprehensive.  While no one-size fits all, a good policy will address the concerns of the employee and the company.

  • Use mobile device management technology (often referred to as MDM) to create a virtual partition in each device that separates work data from personal data.
  • Determine which devices will be permitted and supported and which types of company data people will be able to access from them.
  • Decide which employees (all? only directors? VPs?) will be permitted to use their own devices and why, and require employees to agree with acceptable-use terms when they first connect with the employer’s computer network.
  • Clearly state the employer’s right to access, monitor, and delete information from employee-owned devices. If the company is allowed to access personal information, state the circumstances under which it might do so.
  • Determine and communicate whether the employer will introduce any new forms of monitoring, such as location-based tracking via GPS or other methods.
  • Explain how the company will protect an employee’s personal information, with any limitations of that protection expressly stated.
  • Provide reasonable notice to employees as to when employer data will be “wiped” from personal devices. The company should determine whether all data (personal and work) will be deleted or just work information. How will the company make the distinction between work and personal information?
  • Put data protection practices in place, including requiring strong passwords and automatic locking after periods of inactivity.
  • Designate who is responsible for authorizing work-related software and other downloads, as well as a main point of contact for questions about the policy.
  • Develop your BYOD policy in partnership with IT, risk management, operations personnel, and inside or outside legal counsel.
  • Revise current policies and protocols that may be affected by BYOD practices.

While BYOD policies raise some tough issues, they work well when employers balance security, compliance, and privacy concerns.

The key is being thoughtful and collaborative in your approach.