Are you familiar with the idea of BYOD? If you’re not, it stands for bring your own device—a policy in which employees of an organization utilize their own existing personal devices, like smart phones, for business use. Many organizations today are already utilizing such a policy for their employees.
Pros to BYOD Policies
- Employees only have to worry about having one phone instead of one for personal use and one for work.
- Employees may be happy with this arrangement because they’ll have the device of their choosing, rather than having to possibly settle for one they do not prefer from the employer.
- It may be more cost effective for the employer, who typically will only pay a subsidized portion of the total phone bill, rather than the total bill plus the cost of the device. (But this is not always the case, as we’ll discuss later.)
- Training needs may be reduced because the employees will already be familiar with how to use the device.
- The employer may be able to have newer technology at its fingertips sooner. Individuals are more likely to have upgraded devices faster than the organization would be upgrading an entire team.
- Employees using their own devices may be more productive, simply because they’re so comfortable with using the device efficiently.
Cons of BYOD Policies
- It can be much more difficult for employers to feel as though their data is secure. With less control over the devices, there are more ways that data could be vulnerable. Of course, organizations can have policies in place to help with this issue, but it likely cannot be as secure as having control over a device the company has provided. If there is a data breach, the organization may not know it as quickly.
- Data isn’t the only issue. There’s also a greater risk of viruses, hacking, and unauthorized use of the device. Less control means more risk.
- Some employees may feel it’s a privacy intrusion because the employer may want some type of access or control. Or the employer may at least want to be able to wipe the data from the phone if the employee leaves. These can be touchy issues.
- It’s more difficult to support employees when they’re all using different technology, and there may be software incompatibilities. It may be much more difficult to ensure that all employees get the access and timely updates they need to various programs. Different employees using different tech also means they’ll have differing experiences and ease of use.
- Using personal devices may further blur the line between work and home life, which can be complicated for hourly employees who legally need to be paid when they work. (This is of course also true for employer-provided devices, but those are easier to put down.)
- Overall costs may not be lower in the end, due to increased administrative and support costs to manage all of the cons above.
For any employer considering changing to this type of policy, these pros and cons are some of the considerations. HR and IT need to work quite closely in creating the BYOD policy to ensure the security of company data is taken into account. The policy should include information about what type of privacy expectations each side should have, and what will be done with the device and the data on it if the employee leaves the organization at any point.
Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.