Have you considered allowing your staff to use their own device for work, or are you already doing this? The rise of hybrid work has encouraged many organizations to apply a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy, enabling people to employ their personal laptops, tablets, or phones for professional purposes. So, what are the BYOD advantages and disadvantages?
The amount of money firms can save on hardware, maintenance, and telecommunication costs is one of the most appealing reasons for implementing a BYOD approach. But, this concept has other benefits, such as a higher productivity rate. However, switching from a corporate-owned to an employee-owned device network has some downsides, like increased cybersecurity risks and ethical issues.
Let’s dig into the BYOD policy pros and cons, discover why this mobile device management approach appeals to many businesses worldwide, and understand the best practices from an IT and financial point of view.
What is a BYOD policy?
The meaning of BYOD
The acronym BYOD stands for “Bring Your Own Device”. This means that people can use their private devices for work. In other words, the same laptop is used for personal and professional purposes. This concept has existed for many years already. But, the rise of flexible work arrangements, including hybrid work, has pushed more businesses to adopt a BYOD policy. Through this, employees can utilize their devices to work from anywhere and anytime.
Basic BYOD vs. comprehensive BYOD policy
A survey from Cisco1 highlights the difference between applying a basic or a comprehensive BYOD policy. This distinction isn’t mentioned often, but it can have a real impact. The basic BYOD concept enables organizations to reduce their IT costs significantly. Yet the amount of money they can save quadruples when the implementation is done comprehensively. Depending on your needs and goals, this is an aspect you should dig into.
The other types of mobile device policies
Depending on your industry, rules, and regulations, you can apply different types of mobile device policies that are more or less strict, including:
CYOD: Choose Your Own Device;
COPE: Company Owned/Personally Enabled;
COBO: Company-Owned/Business Only.
BYOD is the least rigid option, while COBO is the strictest, as employees are not allowed to use corporate equipment for personal purposes at all. COPE is a mix of both. You own the hardware, but your team members can customize them with apps that are not work-related.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of BYOD?
The pros of implementing a BYOD policy
A cost-saving solution
The BYOD concept’s most appealing advantage is its ability to lower a company’s IT cost significantly. Imagine you no longer have to provide a laptop for the entire workforce. It also allows you to reduce maintenance and telecommunication costs. According to Cisco’s survey, basic BYOD represents $350 of value annually per mobile user. This sum goes up to $1,300 with comprehensive BYOD. A study from Samsung and Oxford Economics2 reveals similar insights. According to their findings, businesses with a company-owned device policy spend $1,234 per year per worker, while organizations asking staff to bring their own devices disburse $893. However, they highlight that the amount saved can easily be lost if the risks associated with a BYOD approach aren’t considered and tackled.
A more sustainable practice
The importance of sustainability in the office is rising. While the global situation of our planet is alarming, an increasing number of employees are requesting companies to take genuine and concrete actions to reduce their impact. Developing green initiatives has become key for talent attraction and retention. BYOD policies enable you as an organization to fight against over-consumerism and lower your and your staff’s carbon footprint. Each team member no longer needs two laptops, two mobile phones, and sometimes, two tablets, but only one of each. In addition, you can promote and support the 3 R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) concept to go the extra mile.
36% of people save at least four hours per week when working on their own devices1. Letting your team members use their personal devices for work can significantly impact their productivity. One of the reasons is that they are much more comfortable with the interface, so they don’t lose time trying to figure out how it works. We all know how challenging it is to navigate on an iOS system when we are used to an Android and vice versa, don’t we? Another explanation is the ability to personalize their device according to their needs, which is not always allowed with a company-owned policy.
Device use training removal
Whenever you hire new talent or buy new hardware, you need to explain to your employees how to use the tools you provide. This process is required for every recruit or each time you introduce a new device. Whether you do it in person or create a digital course, this takes time and money. With a BYOD policy, you no longer have to train your staff on using devices as they know how to use their own. Yet, you should still educate them regarding security practices and data protection.
The risks related to the Bring Your Own Device concept
The most common issue with a BYOD model is related to cyber risk management. When employees use their own devices for both personal and professional purposes, unsafe practices are more likely. Companies are more exposed to jailbreaking, the use of unsecured networks, data leaks and breaches, etc. While allowing your staff to work on their private hardware can help you lower your costs, being cyber attacked can lose these savings in the blink of an eye. Yet, you can significantly reduce the risks with a well-thought-out mobile device management strategy.
The ethical issue
When implementing a BYOD policy, finding a rational balance between securing the company’s data and respecting employees’ rights to privacy can also be a challenge to consider. Solving this matter requires all staff members, stakeholders, IT, HR, and legal teams to discuss the best course of action to ensure users’ privacy and corporate data protection. Another ethical issue that comes with applying a BYOD policy is the access to those devices. Some people might not have the same financial means and cannot afford an equal amount of technology to do their job. This can result in an unfair and exclusive work environment.
Lastly, the incompatibility between some hardware and software can be a challenge for IT teams and employees using their own devices. Because people change their mobile phones every few years, each device has its own operating system, and many different software versions exist, this process can get a little tricky. Considering these aspects, IT professionals might have difficulty developing applications that function on every device.
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How can you benefit from the pros and minimize the cons of this mobile device management approach?
Allocate more money to the IT department
Your IT colleagues are at the center of the BYOD transition. Their role is essential to guarantee a smooth switch and to maintain a highly secure work environment. They might also need more resources to ensure you get only the BYOD advantages, not the disadvantages. For example, upgrading your mobile device management tool might be necessary. With the rise of technology and digital transformation, investing in IT is a smart and safe decision (even without a BYOD policy).
Plan some budget to train employees in cybersecurity as often as needed
The more technology evolves, the more cybersecurity risks increase. From one employee to another, the awareness of cyber risks and the best practices to keep data safe vary considerably. Because they use their own devices, team members might be less careful. They might leave their tablets unattended with confidential documents easily accessible or use a public WIFI network without a VPN, for instance. Therefore, all companies must train workers to use their hardware and software equipment safely and securely. Educating them about this cybersecurity is essential to help them learn more about security measures and the different lines of defense (passwords, antivirus, encryption, VPN, updates).
Provide team members with a BYOD stipend
When implementing a BYOD policy, you must consider how the company can compensate for the costs of those devices and their maintenance. A monthly or yearly BYOD allowance is often the best choice. It must be calculated according to the number and the type of hardware workers need to perform their tasks in addition to the associated expenses (maintenance, software, telecommunications, etc.). The Samsung and Oxford Economics survey indicates the average monthly stipend for personal mobile phones per employee is around $40.20.
What happens to company data present on hardware in the case an employee leaves the organization? How do you revoke access to this information and other corporate resources? This is also a crucial aspect for which you need an efficient and secure action plan. The most important point to remember is that this process starts during onboarding. This includes setting up devices and systems according to the BYOD policy and ensuring team members agree with your BYOD rules by signing an official document. When, why, and how wiping the company’s data will happen should be mentioned as soon as you allow your staff to use their personal materials.
Use a mobile device management software
The BYOD concept increases as our ways of working become more flexible. With employees working at different times and from various locations, letting them use their personal devices for work-related tasks makes more sense. However, although this hardware isn’t the company’s property, the data and the information on it belong to you and still need to be controlled by you. Mobile device management software allows IT teams to monitor, manage, and secure data from anywhere. Therefore, this offers key support for businesses working with hybrid and distributed teams to ensure corporate data stays confidential.
Create your company’s BYOD policy collaboratively
Your BYOD policy is the key to a successful BYOD implementation. It enables you to set expectations and explain the dos and don’ts. But the creation of this policy isn’t the responsibility of the HR, IT, or Finance department alone. It is a collective task. Team up with other departments to determine what is allowed and what isn’t toward using personal devices for work. Once you have a clear set of regulations, share this document with all your staff so everyone is on the same page. Formalize it by asking your team members to read and sign a written statement. Lastly, don’t forget to update it when needed and inform employees about it.
PS: Forget about printing out your BYOD policy. The future is digital. Your employees will appreciate it and so will the planet!
We hope you better understand the BYOD advantages and disadvantages. Like everything in life, this approach has pros and cons. So, the goal is to focus on implementing the best BYOD practices to minimize the ethical issues and cybersecurity risks as much as possible. The IT team has a crucial role to play in this, but financial support is key for this department to ensure a safe and secure corporate network. With the rise of hybrid work, using personal devices is attractive to more and more employees and businesses. By setting a clear BYOD policy and including everyone in the process, the chances you benefit from this shift are much higher.
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