Bring Your Own Device: What Is It, and What Does It Mean for Your Business?
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) basically does what it says on the tin. It is a policy whereby you and your staff use your own personal devices for work, whether that is a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, instead of a device provided by your business.
In this blog post, we will discuss BYOD in a bit more detail, including its pros and cons, and how you and your business might make good use of it.
What is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?
With a Bring Your Own Device policy, you and your employees are at liberty to use your own devices for work purposes. This could include anything from carrying out small tasks such as checking emails, to undertaking entire projects.
Before BYOD became an established term, there were a number of specific initiatives such as BYOP (Bring Your Own Phone) and BYOT (Bring Your Own Technology). BYOD was eventually implemented as an umbrella term, referring to any and all personal devices that are used for work.
The popularity of BYOD has risen significantly since the start of the pandemic. Once everyone started working from home, the use of personal devices became a lot more viable. Business owners and employees alike discovered a great deal of value in using their own laptops, computers, tablets, and phones, and as such, BYOD became a standard policy across many businesses.
Certainly, there are positive aplenty to a BYOD policy. But equally, there are areas of concern to be considered before fully adopting it for your business. Let’s take a look at the main pros and cons of BYOD in more detail.
The Pros of Bring Your Own Device
Let’s start with the most obvious – and perhaps the most appealing – consideration for you and your business: cost savings!
With a BYOD policy, you won’t have to invest in laptops, tablets and phones for every employee. Though not every employee will be equipped with the necessary devices, you can usually guarantee that most of them will have at least a phone and a laptop. That’s a lot of devices that you no longer have to buy (and maintain), saving you rather a lot of money.
Naturally, employees are going to feel more comfortable using their own devices. They know how they work, often to the point where using them becomes second nature. This helps them to carry out their work more efficiently.
If an employee is handed a device with which they are not familiar, there is inevitably going to be a learning curve to overcome. For example, someone who is used to using a Windows laptop may struggle with a Mac. The layout is different, and the command keys all do different things. This may sound innocuous, but if you have ever tried using a Mac as a Windows user, or visa versa, you will know how jarring the experience can be at first.
When you don’t have the knowledge, or the muscle memory, to perform simple tasks quickly, it can seriously get in the way of your workflow. By allowing employees to stick with their own devices with a BYOD policy, you can prevent this from ever being an issue. As a result, less training will be required, and your business will enjoy more productivity.
A well-implemented BYOD policy can open up a lot of fluidity in your business. If employees are able to work from anywhere, at any time, without needing to use company computers to access work documents, then there are a lot of opportunities for flexible working.
This also implies an element of convenience. By using just one mobile phone to manage both your work life and your personal life, you don’t have to worry about taking care of multiple devices. Just stick your phone in your pocket, and your laptop in your briefcase, and you’re fully set-up for the day.
The Cons of Bring Your Own Device
By definition, BYOD involves allowing employees to access privileged company information and applications via their own laptops, tablets or phones. This raises obvious security concerns, as it can be very difficult to manage the privacy of data when it is being accessed by devices over which you have limited control.
For BYOD to work, therefore, there must also be an element of trust. There’s only so much you can do as a business owner to ensure that personal devices are being used appropriately and that your company’s data is secure.
Another security concern to consider is the potential loss of privacy when an employee leaves your company. If they have been using their personal phones and laptops for work purposes, then they will still have access to sensitive data after they leave. There are ways around this, but it’s definitely something to keep in mind.
More complex IT support
When every employee has a company-issued laptop, tablet and/or phone, it’s pretty easy for an IT department to support, maintain, and repair the devices. If everyone has their own device, all different makes and running different operating systems, then it becomes much more complex.
If you’re willing to implement a BYOD policy, then you’re probably going to have faith that your employees will, to some extent, be able to maintain and update their devices whenever necessary.
Blurring of work/life boundaries
As mentioned above, flexibility is a benefit of BYOD – but it is also a potential pitfall, as it could be seen as having a negative impact on work/life balance.
This is especially true for employees who use their personal mobile phones for work. They will have emails pinging throughout the day, sometimes out of hours, which can make it difficult to fully tune out of work mode.
Home working has already negatively affected the work/life balance of many people, and unfortunately, BYOD can easily compound this issue. As was noted in a recent article by The Guardian, “The working day is at risk of losing its barriers and there will be a real impact on mental health and wellbeing.”
Is BYOD a good idea for your business?
Although it has inherent risks and concerns, we would argue that BYOD can be a good thing for your business to implement. You can save money, boost productivity, and encourage a culture of convenience and flexibility. Provided you have a solid game plan to limit any potential risks, you could be on to a winning policy.
If you are looking to implement a BYOD policy yourself, we recommend addressing the following points:
- Study the IOC BYOD – these are basically guidelines that ensure compliance with the current Data Protection Act.
- Establish remote working rules – for example, restrict the use of public wifi, as this can easily lead to a hack.
- Write a clear employee exit strategy – you will need to make sure that ex-employees no longer have access to company data or work-specific apps.
That should cover the basics, but there will likely be more for you to consider. Here at Liberate IT, we help businesses, typically SMEs, to implement effective and secure BYOD policies. With our extensive remote working support, our Mobile Device Management service and our ability to maintain devices of any make or operating system, we can help you and your employees to work in ways that are comfortable to you. In addition, we will help you craft a policy that protects your data and aligns with your IT strategy.
Get in touch today, and we’ll discuss how we can make BYOD a positive feature of your business.