It's nice to be allowed to use your mobile device for work, but what are the actual benefits and drawbacks? We look at the BYOD office trend a bit closer.
You’ve probably heard about the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) revolution currently underway in schools, but you may not know that the BYOD movement is also making its way into the business office.
In case you need a refresher, BYOD in the workplace means that employees are allowed to use their personal electronic devices – smartphones, tablets, computers – for work and access/log in to the company’s databases.
Sounds fairly simple. And yet, as with many things in life, there are both pros and cons of using personal mobile devices at work.
Is Your Office a BYOD? by Kate Rogers discusses several advantages and disadvantages of the bring-your-own-device policy at work. Let’s start with the good news first.
Saving money with BYOD
Allowing employees to use their own computing devices saves companies money. Why? Because the employer does not need to buy these tools for their staff. Small businesses especially hard-hit by the recent economic struggles can definitely appreciate the financial benefits of allowing BYOD.
Increasing productivity and connectivity
Connecting staff with important information through internal communication (i.e. updating staff on company polices, compliance training, and onboarding) is one area that could be greatly improved with mobile devices if used appropriately.
In addition, many small and large companies need more from their employees both before and after their time at the office. With BYOD mobility, employees can continue to be productive and connected to their work and coworkers anytime, anywhere.
And now for the bad news…
Blurring the lines
Some of us would rather not be connected to our work anytime, anywhere. Because many people already struggle with knowing when to stop working, or skip their lunch hour entirely in favor of getting more work done, the instant accessibility offered by the BYOD office trend might actually be more harmful than helpful.
Continuing to blur the boundary lines between work time and personal time can easily lead to employee burn out.
Struggling with security
In Is Your Office a BYOD?, Rogers also reports on some of the possible risks as identified by the senior VP of Data Risk Management for Identity Theft 911.
For example, each mobile device has its own operating system. Hackers who target these specific systems put all of your data at risk, such as client information, personal information, email lists, etc. “If these things leak,” writes Rogers, “the ramifications for your reputation and bottom line can be major.”
And then there’s the word that strikes fear into hearts everywhere: VIRUS. It’s hard to enforce the installation of anti-virus security software on others’ personal property, which just makes it easier for hackers to introduce malware onto your employees’ mobile devices.
Protecting your company
Fortunately, Rogers’ article suggests that there are things you can do to lessen these risks in your business. Here are two ideas:
- Establish an across-the-board procedure that requires employees to sign into a portal before they can access company data.
- Create a company-wide policy about password-protecting and the ability to remotely erase the information on a lost or stolen device. Setting up these devices with geolocation technology will also lessen the risk of their being misplaced.
Forming your own opinion
These are just a few of the pros and cons of the BYOD workplace trend. Each small business is unique, which means that there is no one-size-fits-all plan for every company.
Every business should look at their operations, their staff, and their particular goals/challenges and then weigh the advantages and disadvantages of implementing the BYOD trend and/or other technological solutions.