With more and more employees balking at the idea of carrying a clunky company phone alongside that sleek new iPhone, companies need to reconsider their BYOD (bring your own device) policies. Although it’s been slow to catch on in the United States, companies in China have been much more flexible with BYOD, allowing employees to use their personal phones for work for years now. Before changing the rules at your company, consider several factors to make the most of your policy.

Benefits of BYOD

As you look at China’s workforce, which is generally made up of young and technologically-connected individuals, it makes a lot of sense for companies to have BYOD policies. Here, the benefits aren’t as extreme because your employees may not be as technologically connected. However, it does make you more attractive to younger employees if they know they can use their personal phones for work. Instituting a BYOD policy can also save your company money because you don’t have to issue work phones and employees are often fine with using their personal data plans for work.

Drawbacks of BYOD

One of the major problems that companies in the U.S. have run into is that with all the different types of smartphones, it’s difficult to create business apps that work across all of them. Chinese companies generally stick with web-based apps to get around this problem. Another major drawback of BYOD is security, with companies concerned about their sensitive information being leaked if the phone is lost or stolen.

How to Set up BYOD Policies

Before allowing employees to use their personal devices for work, establish some basic BYOD policies and inform employees of them. Some of the major steps include:

·       Establish procedures to perform regular backups of data stored on the devices so the company still has work files if the phone is lost or stolen.

·       Create a way for the personal devices to connect to your company’s VPN remotely to perform work tasks over a secure network.

·       Require that employees password-protect their personal devices with secure passwords, and potentially even institute multi-factor authentication to further protect devices if they will store highly sensitive information.

·       Determine how to encrypt data and files to keep them secure while being used on employee devices.

·       Establish guidelines for what apps employees can download and use on their BYOD phones, given potential security holes in malicious or poorly made apps.

·       Set up policies for wiping personal devices, either remotely if they’re lost or stolen or at the company if the employee is leaving and the company needs to wipe sensitive information.

·       Notify employees of risks to their personal privacy that come about when they use personal devices for work.

·       Create simple and clear orientations so employees understand what they’re agreeing to when they use personal devices for work. Interactive orientations are much more appealing, especially to the younger generation, and are more likely to be internalized than pure text.

The challenges brought by a BYOD policy generally fall under the general tension of security versus user-friendliness. You need to make sure employees’ devices are still usable for their personal needs while also keeping your company information and network from being compromised. Crafting the right policy will give you an advantage when recruiting and retaining your employees.