Managing electronics in the workplace used to be simple. There was a typewriter and a phone on each desk and when people left the office, work was done for the day.
It's hard to imagine a scenario more different from that than where we are today. Employees have wearable devices, tablets, smartphones, and laptops, all of which often play a different role in their day-to-day work, and give them the flexibility to work outside of a traditional office environment.
This reality has led to the demise of company-owned devices. Employees are rarely issued a smartphone when they start these days, which means many companies are having to at least consider Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies.
BYOD from an Employee's Point of View
From an employee perspective, bring your own device means they get their choice of mobile device and they have a lot more freedom around which apps they use and how they customize their device.
Since they're already familiar with their own phone, BYOD eliminates any learning curve that would come with a company-supplied device.
It often also means employees get to use newer, more updated devices, since companies often buy devices and then use them until they fail rather than upgrading each time a new device hits the market.
However, BYOD is often used by companies as a way to reduce costs—not just the cost of buying the phone, but also the costs of paying a monthly bill and choosing which apps to install. That means employees are now footing that bill.
Another thing to consider is that if the employee has access to any kind of sensitive customer information, their company may want to limit access to specific applications and/or want to install security-specific features to ensure that data remains safe.
BYOD from a Company Perspective
From a company's point of view, bring your own device offers both significant advantages and some potential risks.
PC Magazine reports that BYOD offers companies new mobile workforce opportunities, increased employee satisfaction, and the ability to reduce or avoid costs. It's that last benefit that is the one most commonly cited when discussing advantages of BYOD policies.
The con that comes first to most business owners' minds is the time and effort it takes to ensure that company information is accessible from a variety of devices in a consistent way. Not all apps are available on all platforms or operating systems.
Supplying devices eliminates this issue by limiting the number and type of device(s) employees can use to access work-related materials.
Other than the issue of IT support, it's important to think about potential security risks that can come with a BYOD policy.
When employees are allowed to use their personal devices to access company data, whether it's training information, customer contact info, or even just email, it opens up the possibility of employees accessing or converting company intellectual property for their own use.
And even with exemplary and trustworthy employees, there's always the risk that a device might be lost or stolen, and data might be used illegally.
The Verdict on BYOD Policies
Gartner Inc. research has led to predictions that 85% of businesses will have some kind of BYOD program in place by 2020.
With acceptance and adoption that widespread, employees will simply expect to bring their own mobile devices into the office and to be able to access company data from those mobile devices, including wearable technology.
Your business will need to decide what policy works best for your needs and the work that needs to be completed. Either strategy can work well when expectations are clearly set and necessary processes are put in place.
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