Should You Require Your Employees to Bring Their Own Devices?

John Krautzel
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Most employees at the office have smartphones of some kind. These devices make contemporary lives easier by delivering software tools directly to miniature computers within the phones. Widespread mobile technology has led companies to create device policies for employees. A well-defined policy outlines exactly how workers can use mobile technology as part of their everyday job duties.

BYOD or Not?

A device policy can stipulate what happens if an employee brings his own mobile device to use for work. This may give an employee access to private information that belongs solely to the firm, such as phone numbers, emails, customer data and proprietary programs that anyone outside the company should not be able to access.

When someone brings a mobile device from home, a firm runs the risk of a data breach. The hidden costs of fixing this breach could be enormous if large amounts of private information make it to the outside world. What happens when an employee suddenly quits and takes his smartphone with him? The company needs a way to block his access to intellectual property that may still be in the phone. A cloud-based system is an easy way to do that, as an IT employee can change or restrict the person's login information.

Otherwise, a business may have to wipe the device's memory, which could be problematic if the employee owns the smartphone or tablet. If a member of the IT team accidentally erases the person's family photos from last year's vacation, the employee might sue for damages.

If the business owns the device, security protocols are different. The person must turn in the technology before he leaves. A company official can call the third-party provider that controls the device to deactivate it. In this case, paying for devices for employees gives a company more control over what happens to the physical object.

Other Hidden Costs

There are a few snafus a business should watch out for with a device policy. When someone brings a device from home, the employer must still pay for the service. Providers may give discounts for having plans along with the devices themselves, so it may actually be less expensive to pay for devices and plans together.

A device policy also precisely outlines what happens if an employee breaks his device. A corporate-paid plan can replace the item very quickly, whereas an employee's device may take days or weeks to fix or replace. An employee without a device has less productivity.

Combination Policies

A combination device policy may be the way to go, especially if laptops come into play. A company-owned laptop is expensive, particularly if software licensing for various programs must cover dozens or hundreds of computers. On the other hand, downloading software onto an employee-owned laptop could create a data breach.

The best device policy covers all types of scenarios with specific procedures. It outlines what devices the company purchases and what personal devices someone may use at the office. It also covers who to contact in IT with technical problems and what happens when someone no longer works for the company.

Every new employee should receive a copy of the device policy when the person first comes on board. That way, the hire is aware of what happens from the get-go and there are no gray areas.


Photo courtesy of pakorn  at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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