Should my business have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy?

By Robert Half on 19 September 2014

Ask yourself how many of your employees already own a smartphone. Now ask yourself whether you're willing to leverage that access with a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in your workplace.

If you answered yes, you're with the majority.

Robert Half asked Australia's businesses whether they allow their employees to bring their own mobile devices into the workplace, and 51 per cent said yes – devices are allowed with no restrictions. An additional 31 per cent said they allow personal devices but that there are some exceptions in their BYOD program.

Only 18 per cent of all companies said they categorically don't allow BYOD. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this changed fairly substantially between large and medium-sized businesses, with 23 and 14 per cent, respectively, disallowing devices.

Why consider a BYOD policy?

There are some fairly substantial pros to switching to a BYOD policy. The first is financial – if your employees are willing to spend their own money on buying high-tech equipment, who are you to stand in their way? Especially seeing as it offers you the chance to save on device costs, maintenance fees and monthly bills. Ongoing costs such as Helpdesk support can be kept to a minimum with the responsibility now in the hands of employees.

As your employees will already be adept at using their own devices (and more willing to learn!), you're likely to find that engagement and productivity are higher. There's a happiness factor to consider as well – the majority of staff members will be pleased they have the liberty to use what they know, plus the freedom to upgrade at their own discretion.

What are the downsides to personal devices?

Before you consider a Bring Your Own Device policy however, there are some important downsides you need to factor in to your decision. Security first and foremost, is a primary issue. Particularly if your enterprise is dealing with highly sensitive data, as it will be harder to implement a company-wide standard.

With increased concern around both workplace security, cloud security and cyber security, companies need to be vigilant about potentially exposing their data to external threats.

While it’s not commonly raised, simple human error can expose your office to unforeseen issues that could compromise company data. Although training and education for a BYOD policy can minimise such risks, companies must assess if they are willing to take that gamble.

There's also the chance that you'll be putting more pressure on your IT team by asking them to facilitate the use of multiple devices and platforms. Regularly monitoring employee communications requires an investment into understanding IT security trends and setting clear security policies for staff.

Allowing personal devices in the workplace can in addition blur the lines between private and professional life, making it harder for your employees to remain focused and undistracted. A relaxed office can do wonders for staff morale, but an informal workplace can equally be bad for business.

A Bring Your Own Device policy does have benefits for your business. However, before implementing such a plan, employers should take into consideration the inherent dangers and IT security threats that could pose a risk to their workplace integrity without the proper assessments.

Do you allow your employees to bring their own devices to work? If so, have you implemented an official policy and guidelines for them to follow? Feel free to comment below:

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