Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has become a widely used modern workplace practice, in which staff are able to work from their own smartphone or tablet devices within the office. With 3 in 5 companies now permitting its use, the popularity of BYOD continues to increase, particularly amongst forward-thinking directors and tech-savvy young employees.
Northdoor, an IT Consultancy in London, which specialises in data security, IBM Storage and cloud computing, outlines the pros and cons of adopting this current workplace trend so that small business owners can decide whether to implement it.
One of the key arguments for BYOD is the immense cost savings that come with allowing staff to work from their own devices, over installing and maintaining workstations for all employees. For small businesses or start-ups, in particular, this could prove to be a large financial burden.
Of course, as the business grows, your IT infrastructure and hardware may also expand – but when starting out or where there are just a small number of employees, BYOD can certainly come in handy and result in significant cost savings.
Moreover, people nowadays fork out a lot of money for the latest smartphones, laptops and tablets, which means that they are likely to keep them updated and take good care of them. This again reduces costs related to keeping company-owned computers up-to-date, since the onus is instead on staff to make sure their own personal devices are up-to-scratch.
Attracting young talent
In the not-too-distant future, millennials and the generations after them will make up the majority of the workforce. As such, it’s important for businesses who want to stay up to speed to be able to dig into this demographic and embrace the attractive, cutting-edge work practices which appeal to them.
Young people are, on the whole, much more digitally advanced than their older counterparts, which is why advertising yourself as a progressive employer that fully embraces all things modern, such as a company-wide BYOD policy, is likely to resonate with and attract the best young talent that your industry has to offer.
Besides, this generation actually prefers working from their own mobile devices, of which they are familiar and spend a significant amount of time on each day.
Your staff are already highly accustomed to using their personal devices, which is why allowing their continued usage in the office is beneficial for your business since it bypasses the need to train employees in how to use work systems, which requires added time and resources.
Modern workers prefer flexibility in when and where they carry out their job too, which leads to better productivity. Employees will no longer need to download and install additional tools to gain access to company documents and emails while working out of office, meaning they are able to continue working wherever they are, thus increasing overall efficiency.
The biggest hurdle for companies in implementing BYOD is concerns over data security. This is understandable, since there are likely to be several employees distributing and handling customer and business data, and a lax BYOD policy can certainly open a small business up to a wide range of potential security issues.
An employee could have their device stolen and then data mined, which could be highly detrimental to a business of any size, let alone a small one.
Likewise, substantial damage could ensue if a personal device was not kept up-to-date with the latest antivirus software. As such, if you do wish to enforce a BYOD policy, it needs to be a rigid one in which stringent rules are made with regards to passwords, keeping software well-maintained, and only allowing specific devices to connect to the company network.
As mentioned above, any good BYOD policy will be strict and have a set of clearly defined rules and regulations regarding its proper use. Creating such a policy requires time and effort, including the need to fully educate all staff involved as to any potential risks and how to alleviate them. That being said, it is up to you to decide whether you have the relevant resources at your disposal to dedicate to such training.
Privacy is certainly a hot topic right now, thanks to the recent introduction of GDPR. BYOD is not exempt from privacy concerns, particularly with regard to the question of what happens to personal devices when employees leave the company.
Your business, therefore, needs to think long and hard about how it could legitimately retrieve company data from staff personal devices in such circumstances. Would employees be comfortable with the company accessing their own devices to do that? Maybe not.
For any BYOD policy to be successful, business owners need to effectively balance their obvious security concerns with the rights of privacy of their staff, which can certainly prove tricky.
Should your business enforce BYOD?
There are several strong arguments on both sides, and it is down to you as a business owner to decide whether you are capable of adopting an effective BYOD policy.
While security and privacy are, of course, very real concerns, there are a huge number of businesses which have managed to make it work without a glitch, but, this can only be achieved where a strict company-wide policy is in place, which all staff are able to properly adhere to.
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