Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) seems like a win-win for businesses. First, businesses save money by avoiding investment in expensive tech tools, like computers. Then, businesses typically see an increase to employee hours, as workers can log in and complete tasks from anywhere at any time. More productivity plus lower cost equals a fantastic idea, right?
Unfortunately, this isn’t usually the case. There are several reasons BYOD policies don’t work out the way businesses expect, from distracted, disengaged employees to unequal, inefficient technology. Further, too many business implement BYOD policies that don’t effectively protect their assets, to include sensitive client and company information. Here are a few reasons BYOD might not be the best idea — and a few ways businesses can have a BYOD policy, anyway.
6 Downsides of BYOD
BYOD is far from a perfect solution, and these facts prove it:
- BYOD does not save money. Often, businesses save money on phone and network plans by buying in bulk. However, many businesses reimburse employees for device and data costs incurred on BYOD devices, which do not receive business discounts.
- BYOD slows IT support. Employees turn to IT support with every work-related tech hiccup, even when it occurs on their personal devices. Because there can be extreme diversity in employee devices, tech support often slows down to learn about unique devices and problems before providing solutions.
- BYOD increases distractions. There are plenty of distractions on corporate devices, but these can be locked, hidden, or easily ignored. Meanwhile, personal devices are loaded with pictures, games, inappropriate content, and more which demand attention.
- BYOD encourages MBTY. “Mine is better than yours” syndrome didn’t disappear with recess. Plenty of employees will feel pressured by their peers to invest in the best tech possible, which in turn spreads resentment through staff that cannot afford cutting-edge devices.
- BYOD reduces security. Most importantly, it is incredibly difficult to ensure security on personal devices. Often, users do not enable passwords (or choose weak ones), disable antivirus programs and firewalls, and otherwise jeopardize their devices and data for the sake of ease of use. When the same devices are then used for work, the same risks affect business data and programs.
- BYOD is a legal minefield. Finally, businesses need to be certain to have enough software licenses to cover personal devices, or they could be sued by software providers. Employees who conduct illegal activity on their BYOD devices, such as installing software without a license or downloading pirated media, may make businesses liable for their crimes.
How to Design a Functional BYOD Policy
Just because BYOD isn’t perfect doesn’t mean it should be outlawed. In fact, 67 percent of workers use their own devices for work purposes, whether their employers want them to or not. To keep data safe, more and more businesses are eager to integrate BYOD policies — but such policies only work if they truly address the safety and security issues BYOD introduces. Instead of letting employee devices run loose, businesses need strict rules regarding BYOD; for example, the policy should:
- Specify what devices are permitted. It is difficult to connect and secure every type of device. Businesses not equipped to monitor Apple products, for example, should consider explicitly excluding iPhones, iPads, Macs, etc.
- Define a security and service policy for all devices. Users must adopt secure behavior and use strong security software if they want to use their own devices. Businesses should also consider how they will support malfunctioning employee devices or applications on employee devices.
- Establish who owns what. Employees might own the hardware, but if they are using business software licenses and business data, it should be clear that they don’t have authority over those. Further, businesses should retain the right to wipe all data from devices used for work, which may permanently delete personal photos, documents, etc.
- Prohibit certain applications. Businesses can thwart illegal activity by prohibiting BYOD devices from containing dangerous applications. This will also help businesses curb distractions during work hours if banned apps include social media browsing tools, replacement email apps, etc.
- Determine an employee exit strategy. Finally, an effective BYOD explains the process for deleting or reclaiming business property saved on employee devices. This may require backing up personal data and returning the device to factory settings.