In an era where technology is a part of daily life, the boundary between personal and professional can blur, offering new ways for businesses to operate. One trend transforming modern workplaces is BYOD, which allows employees to use their personal devices for both work and at home. With 68% of companies seeing a productivity increase with BYOD, alongside a 53% employee satisfaction increase, the increased comfort offers a lot of value.
Using BYOD isn’t without its problems, though. On the business side, it isn’t easy to fully secure devices that don’t stay within the workplace and are used for non-job activities. Since people use an average of 2.5 devices for work, the number to manage can quickly multiply without good policies. Some employees also have concerns over privacy due to the invasiveness of some solutions, making them hesitant to use their own devices at their jobs. While the pros often outweigh the cons, businesses need to be thoughtful with their approach.
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What Is Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)?
Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a policy that allows employees to use personal devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops, for work purposes. That lets them use company email, applications, data, and other resources wherever they bring the device. They’ll also maintain access to personal apps, accounts, and data that may be used during breaks and outside the workplace.
What Are 5 Benefits of Using BYOD?
1. Increased Productivity
The ability to work anywhere is valuable, as people can check their work accounts on the go or jot down a quick idea at home. That reduces the chance of a critical thought or idea being forgotten by the time they’re in the office next. People also work quicker by using their own devices because they have daily practice both in and outside the workplace.
2. Employee Satisfaction
Staff morale is often tied to employee satisfaction. Much like driving a privately owned car or even working remotely, the comfort of using an everyday device can make work less tense. Workers are also more at ease and can quickly navigate devices they already use regularly. That’s good for productivity and makes it a less stressful work tool.
3. Cost Savings
Devices can be expensive, especially when purchasing higher-end ones that are required for many types of work. Even if a reimbursement plan is offered, companies can save up to $341 per employee by switching to BYOD. That makes it an economical compromise to ensure employees have what they need without overburdening the business.
4. Staff Mobility
Allowing BYOD means people commonly have a device with them that they can work from. While people can turn off notifications during their unavailable hours, they’ll be able to see and respond more quickly. It also enables more flexibility with working from home, as everything they need is already set up on what they have.
5. Easier Onboarding
Allowing staff to use personal devices means they’re familiar with how to use them, and it’s already part of their routine. That makes the onboarding process go much quicker, feel more relaxed for new employees, and reduces the company resources needed.
What Are 5 Downsides of Using BYOD?
1. Security Risks
Security risks are one of the most significant concerns with BYOD. Any device that workers use outside of the workplace isn’t under the complete control of the company. That can make poorly managed personal devices a major vulnerability, as a threat only needs one stolen device to access accounts and cause irreversible damage.
2. Data Management Challenges
The security risks are connected to the other half of the issue: data management challenges. Having a bunch of devices and accounts both in and out of the office can make it very difficult to manage data. That’s why it’s essential for IT teams to regularly review data handling, who has access to what, and ensure there’s a plan to address any scenario.
3. Increased IT Support
When allowing people to bring dozens of different types and models of devices, it can become difficult for IT staff to support each one. Some issues may be isolated to a particular device, and anything learned from solving that problem may not always apply to others due to the greater difference.
4. Legal and Compliance Issues
Many industries have legal and regulatory guidelines to follow, especially for handling customer data and financial information. Allowing people to bring their devices can open the door to major compliance breaches. Even if IT infrastructure is secure, it’s just as crucial for the device that accesses it to have some security measures.
5. Privacy Concerns
In an era where everything is monitored, and behavior data is sold, 48% of users believe BYOD would increase if their company didn’t have access to their device. Mobile device management (MDM) can be an effective security solution but may also give a view into personal usage. Companies can help ease that fear by being upfront with what data is gathered and its use.
Is BYOD or Using Company-Owned Devices Better?
There is no right answer for everyone. Each company must weigh the potential benefits and drawbacks of both approaches. That may include budget, IT capacity, security requirements, and company culture. Alternate models, like CYOD, COPE, COBO, and COSU, have pros and cons that involve more or less control over devices. An IT consultant can provide additional insight for any business uncertain about which route to take with device management.
What Are Some BYOD Best Practices?
To increase the chance of a successful device program, here are some BYOD best practices that IT teams should keep in mind:
- Establish a written policy. That will set a baseline reference for questions, concerns, and expectations from staff.
- Ensure employees are educated on BYOD. Include key highlights from written policies and things like setup tips, security practices, and tips to manage their devices.
- Make cybersecurity a high priority. Data is one of the most valuable assets of any modern business, and it’s vital to keep it safe.
- Have an incident response plan. Whether a device is stolen or someone clicks a spear phishing link, a plan is needed to handle any situation.
- Privacy protection matters to employees. Containerization can separate personal and business data. IT staff can also set limitations on who can see or access what.
- Add BYOD to part of the onboarding process. That allows people to familiarize themselves with policies and integrate their devices faster.
- Develop an offboarding strategy. That helps guarantee anyone who departs has any valuable data removed from their device.
- Routinely review and update policies based on changing threats or company needs. Outdated policies can become a liability if they’re missing a key factor.
Whatever approach a business takes to BYOD, the goal is to take advantage of all the benefits while minimizing the impact of any downsides.
How Does a Bring Your Own Device Policy Work?
A bring-your-own-device policy can be written in many ways, depending on the needs of an organization. Some take an open-ended approach where everyone is allowed to use it if they’re willing to take the time to set up their own devices. Others may use stricter guidelines and set access limitations to better secure data. Here are some elements a BYOD policy may include:
Not every job role makes sense to allow for bringing your own device. Some employees may have no reason to access company resources outside of the workplace, making it an unnecessary risk factor that offers no benefit. For other situations, using company-provided devices to separate personal and workplace usage may make more sense.
Companies may set limitations on usable devices, whether for compatibility or security reasons. Limiting the number and types allowed within the BYOD program gives better control over what’s being used. It also reduces the number of configurations and possible issues for the IT team to troubleshoot, saving time and costs.
Cyber threats are an ongoing concern for every business, making BYOD a unique challenge for IT security teams. To provide better protection, some organizations may require certain security features like encryption, lock-screen passwords, and up-to-date antivirus. Security apps or other mobile device management (MDM) may also be required.
Since people are using their own devices, it creates a situation where both company and personal data are stored and managed in the same place. That means there isn’t always strict separation. A data management policy can help define how staff should handle both types of data, to ensure there aren’t unexpected complications or overlaps.
If employees are expected to use their own devices routinely for work, it’s important to outline if there are any reimbursements. Incentives may encourage people to purchase more expensive technology that will perform better and have more longevity. That can lead to higher productivity while still sharing the cost of the device with the employee.
Some staff may choose to use a personal device no longer or decide to move on to a different business. No matter the situation, it’s wise to have an offboarding strategy to ensure the device doesn’t have open access to company tools and data. Not engaging in offboarding can open the door to future risks.
What Are Some Alternate Models to BYOD?
While the BYOD model is one of the most discussed, some alternatives are available that have different pros and cons. We’ll highlight the four main ones:
CYOD (Choose Your Own Device)
With a CYOD policy, employees are given a list of pre-approved devices that they can choose from. The company normally handles the purchasing and ownership of these devices. Some adaptability is still there, such as taking the devices home to work. Personal usage may also be allowed, though it can vary from one place to another depending on needs.
COPE (Corporate-Owned, Personally Enabled)
The COPE model provides a structured alternative for BYOD. With this model, the devices are purchased by the business and picked out by the employee. However, they’re allowed to be used as personal devices. That gives ownership more control over security and compatibility while still giving employees a greater sense of flexibility.
COBO (Company-Owned, Business Only)
This model is similar to COPE and CYOD, where businesses will purchase the devices needed for each employee. The key difference is that they’re designed for business only. That means no personal usage is permitted, even if they’re allowed to be taken home. That limits the amount of hands-on experience gained and makes for a more secure device.
COSU (Company-Owned, Single Use)
COSU is the most unique of the models we’re highlighting. Devices aren’t designated for business or personal use. Instead, they serve a single purpose within the company and may be used by multiple people daily. For example, a restaurant may use a device that only runs the software needed to take orders and process payments. It otherwise serves no other purpose.
The decision to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy should be carefully considered based on the needs and circumstances of the business. While integrating it can lead to increased productivity, improved employee satisfaction, and easier collaboration, it’s not without its downsides. Cybersecurity is a constant concern for companies, especially with legal and compliance guidelines that must be met.
That being said, most pitfalls can be mitigated through a well-structured BYOD policy. That means prioritizing security, data management, and employee education to ensure everyone is on the same page. There are also many ways to approach integration, such as the CYOD, COPE, COBO, and COSU models, giving businesses more control devices. No matter the choice, success lies in having effective management and an experienced IT team.