An increasing number of companies are adopting a BYOD (bring your own device) policy in their workplaces. Rather than providing each employee with a computer and phone, many organizations are instead requiring employees to use their own personal devices to carry out their jobs.
BYOD has many advantages for companies. Most obviously, making employees use their own personal devices rather than providing company gadgets reduces costs for the employer. In addition, employees are able to use the personal devices with which they are already familiar, so there is no learning curve as employees get used to new technology.
However, a BYOD workplace policy isn't always such good news for employees. Many workers complain that using their personal devices for work means that they never get a break from the office. Calls, emails and text messages come straight to the employee's personal device at all times of the day and night, including the weekends and the employee's days off. This constant connection can be useful from the employer's point of view, but it can also lead to stress and fatigue.
There have even been stories of workers' personal devices being wiped when they leave a job. The Wall Street Journal reported on this practice in early 2014, telling the stories of employees whose personal photos, music and data were removed via remote wiping when they left an organization. Although the companies claimed that remote wiping was a clearly explained policy, some employees complained that the disappearance of their data came as a complete shock.
Is it even legal for an employer to require you to provide your own electronic devices? There are many potential legal issues that could arise over this policy. Anti-discrimination regulations prevent companies from asking a potential employee whether he owns a car; could this same legislation prevent the question of iPad ownership coming up in a job interview?
So far, the potential legal issues around BYOD workplace policies have not been tested in the courts. For now, agreeing to provide personal devices could be the only way that many job seekers can land a much-needed job.
If your employer requires you to provide your personal devices for use on the job, it might be reasonable to ask for financial help with meeting the cost of the extra calls and data if they are not already included in your plan. As with all negotiations regarding compensation, this topic needs to be broached professionally and assertively with the HR department.
Although having employees use their personal devices seems like a cost-cutting policy, the complications of keeping sensitive information secure could cause many organizations to abandon the policy. For now, many employees have to continue using their personal devices in the workplace.
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