Smartphones have become foundational devices for everyday personal use, and they are increasingly becoming essential in the workplace. Mobile device usage can bring convenience, increased productivity, and outside-the-office accessibility for your employees. Many organizations have put “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies into place which allow personnel to use their own mobile devices rather than having to equip the entire workforce with cell phones. This can be highly cost efficient, but it is not without its downsides. When mobile devices contain important business information, they must be secured and protected from hacking, theft and other inappropriate usage that might compromise data or leave your business liable. However, a solid BYOD policy put in place can improve employee performance and satisfaction, and bring your business into the modern era. Here are some tips to consider when you introduce a “Bring Your Own Device” policy to your workplace:
Inventory Your BYOD Needs
Decide what your goals are for introducing a BYOD policy. Do you want to increase productivity? Make sure your company data is secure outside the workplace? Reduce inappropriate web usage during work hours? Keep your business out of danger for liability? All of the above? When you decide to institute BYOD, make sure the policy is aligned with organizational goals. You can encourage employee engagement by developing a “BYOD team” that other employees can go to with questions and concerns.
Consider Your BYOD Risks
“Bring Your Own Device” policies are often put in place to minimize risk; however, they can come with risks of their own. Make sure that your organization is in compliance with local privacy laws, and make your BYOD team aware of related foreign or out-of-state laws if devices will be used in other locations. Decide how devices and their relevant data plans will be paid for and who will pay the bills, and put a plan in place for possible data overages (and costs for foreign usage if necessary). If your business puts blocks in place on certain websites or apps, make sure that those blocks also apply to mobile devices. Put rules in place to standardize security for BYOD devices including passwords, firmware updates, time locks, network accesses, or any other security necessities.
Create A BYOD Exit Plan
Mobile devices can be misplaced, stolen, or hacked, and employees may eventually leave the company. Make sure that your policy accounts for these eventualities and is prepared to keep data safe and secure. Your policy should include protocols for device replacement and data erasure if necessary. As always, employees should be aware of these policies and what their rights are regarding their own data on their devices. Delineate these protocols specifically within your BYOD policy and make sure there are no misunderstandings with employees as to what you might access or wipe on any mobile device.
Developing a solid BYOD policy for your business means inventorying risk, creating a thorough written policy, communicating it to employees before implementation, and ensuring that devices are secure. It can be a substantial initiative, but creating a BYOD policy is the first key step in gaining the benefits of a more mobile workforce.