Bring your own device.
Bring your own device is a very popular and ever so common phrase in the business world. In fact, we’ve written about it before here and here. More commonly referred to in the acronym form of BYOD, the ability to bring your own device to the workplace is something to look for when job hunting – and something employers need to adapt to.
With the downfall of BlackBerry inevitable at this point, more consumers (read: employees) are wanting to use their shiny new touchscreen devices instead of company-issued equipment. Those same devices pack amazing cameras, eliminate the need to carry two devices (a chore) and simplify the overall workflow for most workers.
As more companies are looking at the aspect of allowing employees to bring their own devices to the office, there are many questions about the process and security of BYOD.
At first glance it can sound like an IT nightmare. The thought of allowing devices onto internal systems, accessing critical information, with the security of said devices up in limbo is frightening. And for some companies this is indeed the case, as the IT professional (if there is one at the business) isn’t aware of the tools and capabilities available for businesses to take control of the BYOD process.
Figuring out the technological aspects of incorporating a BYOD system is only half the battle. Technology makes it easy, but the policies and mindset taken by the company can cripple the purpose and spirit behind a BYOD system.
Here are some additional BYOD resources:
- Is Your Company Ready for BYOD?
- Empower Your Millennial Workforce with BYOD
- All About BYOD
- 20 BYOT Resources by Category
Apple vs. Android vs. Windows vs. Blackberry?
When employees begin bringing devices to the office, the device being used is what works best for him or her. Be it an iPhone, an Android device, Windows Phone or another platform.
The platform of choice is important to the company, but it’s even more important to the individual. I often compare the enthusiasm a user of platform uses is one the same level as political beliefs. When someone feels their political views are threatened, they often get defensive; the same applies to mobile platforms.
When implementing a BYOD program, keep this seemingly silly aspect of such a program in mind. Be respectful of whatever device the user wants to bring in. This doesn’t mean you don’t reserve the right to say a certain device won’t work with your company; just be respectful.
Keep an approved device list to make this process easier on everyone involved. The tech industry, and more specifically the mobile tech industry, changes on a nearly daily basis. With new devices, platforms and services available at that same rate, an approved device list will help make it easy for employees and those who have to enforce the BYOD policies to identify what’s acceptable.
Instead of requiring each and every single Android device to be approved, make a list of suggested Android devices. There are just too many Android handsets to keep a running sheet of which devices are approved. If there are certain devices, due to incompatibility with software or what not, include those on a list of devices that simply won’t work.
Security is a very important aspect of any BYOD program. Enforcing security protocols by requesting users to have a device password, or use specific apps when accessing privileged information is something both parties will understand and respect. In exchange for setting a password on a personal device, employees gets to carry and use his or her preferred device. It’s more than a fair tradeoff.
Don’t take security so serious that you enforce strict controls over which apps a user can’t have installed on a device. It goes without saying apps are extremely popular and a big part of the smartphone experience. By restricting apps on a personal device, employees are only going to resent the BYOD program. Part of bringing a personal device is being able to use it for personal reasons, including playing a game of Dots or catching up on House of Cards.
And whatever you do, unless it is absolutely critical to your business, do not disable the camera. Smartphone cameras are used nearly non stop now. In your employees mind, a phone without a camera may as well be a flip phone.
It’s OK to set some limitations on types of apps, especially for apps that can pose a direct security risk, but not an across the board policy of no Facebook, Twitter or games. This goes against the core of what BYOD represents.
Last but not least is to offer some sort of allowance or cellular reimbursement. Employees are often willing to pay for the device, but when the device is used for both personal and business reasons, a set allowance helps alleviate the feeling of being taken advantage of. Offer to cover the cost of the data plan, or something along those lines to help ease the burden on your employee of the BYOD program.
At the end of the day you save money by not having to purchase devices and cover the entire cost of the wireless subscription. Saving money while helping your employees make you money is always a good idea.
BYOD = Win/Win
When done right, both sides of the BYOD program win. Employees get to use what works best, and owners get to reap the benefits of employees being happy and working efficiently with their preferred tools.
Keep an open mind to the types of devices and apps that come in front of you, but don’t be so open minded the system backfires. There’s a happy medium here, but it will take some time before you find it.