HR Management & Compliance, Technology

Should You Allow Employees to Use Their Own Devices for Work?

A trend that has been growing for years is the use of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, which allow employees to use their own personal devices such as phones and laptops for work.

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Employers often allow employees to use their own devices because of cost savings—the organization wouldn’t need to purchase devices for employees who use ones they already own, and it wouldn’t have to pay the monthly fees associated with the devices or could offer only a set amount for reimbursement.

Employee satisfaction is another reason employers adopt BYOD policies. Employees often have specific preferences regarding what phones and computers they like to use and can use most efficiently, so allowing your workers to use their preferred devices can make them happier and more efficient while working. Employees may also prefer to use their own phones because they would only have to use one device instead of one for work and one for personal use.

And, if employees are likely to start working from home—such as during the COVID-19 pandemic—having a BYOD option could make that transition much easier.

Moreover, employees may have a higher standard of technology than their employer would likely have purchased because of cost comparisons, and a faster device has its own benefits, especially if employees are willing to pay for it or already own it. Additionally, employees are more likely to update their own devices more frequently than the employer would, again resulting in their having a higher standard of technology than they would otherwise.

BYOD: The Downsides

Because of their benefits, BYOD programs are still gaining popularity, but there are some pretty major caveats and risks that need to be mitigated.

Security is a primary concern when employees use their own devices. Employers will have less of an ability to ensure the devices are always covered by antivirus software, are always password-protected, are always avoiding insecure networks, etc. While there are ways to address these concerns via company policy, it’s likely employees will use their devices for personal reasons, as well, which also opens them up to more security risks.

Another security risk is how easy it may be for company data to be taken off of these devices, either by employees themselves (while they’re employed or after) or by others who may use the devices.

It can also be more difficult to manage employer software when it needs to be deployed across dozens of different devices and platforms, resulting in different users having a different user experience, which further complicates the situation.

These are some of the major issues employers must weigh when determining whether to have employees use company-provided devices or allow them to use their own. Most employers that do allow employees to use their own devices try to limit the risks and complexity through comprehensive BYOD policies that outline acceptable use, what monitoring and security will be required on the devices, and what steps the organization will take if the employment relationship is terminated in the future.