Employees and Personal Devices

Most employees will bring at least one type of smart device – most likely a smartphone – into the office. In fact, 77 percent of Americans use smartphones, which is why business owners have begun putting Bring Your Own Device, or “BYOD” policies in place.

BYOD simply means that your business allows employees to bring their personal devices, like laptops and mobile devices, into the workplace. These policies vary depending on your business type, the type of information you store, your employees’ access to that sensitive information and your company’s size and budget.

No matter what type of business you run, it’s important to consider your company’s BYOD security challenges despite the added benefits to productivity and your bottom line. Join us as we discuss BYOD, how to choose the right program for your business, and ways to improve existing BYOD programs you already have in place.

Does My Business Need a BYOD Policy?

Every BYOD policy will vary from business to business. Some allow employees to use their personal devices for work-related tasks, while others may only allow the device’s physical presence in the office.
Some companies prohibit BYOD in the office, fearing BYOD security challenges — primarily in terms of data security. It may be as simple as adding a separate Wi-Fi network for your employees’ devices, or it may require protecting your company’s sensitive business information with a more complex policy. Not all BYOD policies look the same, and it’s imperative that you choose one that best fits your company.

Why Consider BYOD?

Smartphones can be used for more than just sharing thoughts on social media or taking selfies. Implementing a BYOD program into your business can maximize productivity, grow sales, give flexibility to your employees and reduce costs within your business.

However, it’s equally important to consider your business’ structure and needs before implementing a program that could bring potential security risks into the office.

BYOD: Pros and Cons

Smart devices come in all shapes and sizes. In today’s world, you can carry them in your backpack or purse, put them in your pocket or even wear them as accessories. Overall, 90 percent of employees within small businesses bring at least one mobile device to work, 77 percent bring tablets and 22 percent bring wearable devices like the iWatch or health trackers.

Although many companies allow their employees to bring their own devices, 49 percent of small business IT professionals say their company does not have mobile device management (MDM) – features like data encryption and restriction on app downloads and connectivity – regulating those devices.

Pros: Increased Efficiency and Lower Costs

Employees are more comfortable, and therefore, more efficient.

Would you feel more comfortable sending an email from your own phone or a stranger’s phone? BYOD allows employees to use devices they’re already familiar with – boosting productivity in the office. In fact, 71 percent of small business owners believed this was the number one reason to consider implementing a BYOD policy.

BYOD cuts down on device costs.

If your employees bring their own devices, your business won’t have to budget for them. Thus, upgrades and overall maintenance of the devices will also be covered by the employees themselves.

Cons: Security Holes and Decreased Productivity

Personal devices can create distractions for everyone.

While employees may feel more familiar with their own devices, their personal contacts and apps can prove to be rather distracting. Employees may spend more time playing games and checking their personal messages than focusing on work-related tasks. Data-heavy activities like video streaming can also slow your entire network down and affect others within the company.

BYOD can affect your company’s security.

More than half of small business owners who prohibit BYOD said security was their biggest concern. Even with proper security measures, it only takes one compromised device to cause a data breach. Depending on your business and the type of information you store, BYOD may not be a risk worth taking.

Source: CenturyLink, 2016

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail

If you’re considering a BYOD policy for your business, be sure that it fits you and your company’s needs. Consider how much sensitive information you store, who can access it and the consequences if it’s breached. Follow this checklist to ensure you plan for all scenarios:

  • Create a permitted device list and mandate what level of access those devices have.
  • Outline a BYOD acceptable-use policy that covers appropriate employee conduct.
  • Offer employee training on proper use of personal devices within the workplace.
  • Know how to secure you business’ information if an employee leaves the company.

For those who already have BYOD programs, use these tips to continue improving your company’s policies:

  • Limit the use of BYOD to certain employees, certain types of devices, certain websites or apps, etc. Limited access reduces your risk of exposure if a device is compromised.
  • Require that personal devices enable the “lock” function. This will add an extra layer of protection to the device if it is lost or stolen.
  • Talk to your employees. Find out when and how personal devices are used in the office to better understand your BYOD policy and any potential program changes.