BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is a bit like the BYOB of the technical world. This increasingly popular movement allows employees to work from the comfort of their personal devices in the office. These devices are connected to the organization’s wireless network, and a large percentage of those connected devices are smartphones and tablets.
A lot of organizations are already allowing BYOD in the workplace. According to Gartner, Inc., 70 percent of American companies allow employees to use personal devices to access network applications and systems. The use of BYOD can be found in a variety of industries and fields including healthcare, education and Fortune 500 companies.
Allowing BYOD does require extra work and planning for the IT department. Budget, staffing, and security are commonly cited concerns. Businesses must design a plan to support the growing number of devices, particularly mobile ones, on the network.
First and foremost, BYOD can save employers money. Employees use devices they already own and are responsible for. This means the organization can cut costs on technology and staffing.
Productivity and communication rates have the potential to improve. Employees are comfortable with and adept at using their own phones, tablets or laptops. They can also use them easily when at home, on vacation or sick leave.
In a BYOD-friendly work environment, employees and employers can communicate with each other seamlessly. Employers can also integrate new hires quickly without having to train them on new and possibly unfamiliar devices.
In an increasingly mobile society, employees appreciate the opportunity to work on-the-go. A bit of workplace flexibility often goes a long way to improve employee satisfaction and overall morale.
There certainly are some things to keep in mind before approving BYOD. Most of the disadvantages associated with BYOD boil down to control, security and efficiency.
An organization that allows employees to bring their own devices has less control over the actual devices used. The network will need to be able to handle a variety of devices without becoming overloaded. Supporting mobile devices will undoubtedly need to be a high priority.
There’s also a potential security disaster waiting to happen if devices are lost or stolen and not protected by a strong passcode. People could access enterprise data through an employee’s smartphone and act maliciously. Malware can even be passed from a personal device to the company server.
Other employers worry that personal devices may become a distraction. This blurring of the lines between personal and professional lives can be hard to manage for more traditional organizations.
Many of the risks associated with BYOD can be minimized with careful planning and strict company policies.
This question is a bit of a moot point because the use of personal devices in the workplace is rising, and the expectations surrounding BYOD are shifting quickly. In some cases where a company has a large budget and major security concerns, it may be wiser to provide everyone with an electronic device.
Otherwise, it’s better to start thinking about a BYOD policy and plan now. Perhaps you won’t put them into action until later on. However, preparing ahead of time allows you to think through the situation carefully and tactically.
What makes BYOD planning complex is the ever-changing nature of electronic devices and their usage. The plan you made last year may not support next year’s staff and devices. Therefore, it’s crucial to be consistent in updating your plan and policy. This will help you avoid major security snafus and keep BYOD users happy.
If you allow or plan to allow BYOD, increase security with the following:
Following these tips will allow you to reap the advantages of BYOD while combatting any associated risks. BYOD plans and policies should be as unique as the organization implementing them. To learn more about how to use BYOD successfully and securely in the workplace, contact us at Prudential Associates (http://www.usainvestigators.com).