Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a strategy that allows employees to use their personal devices – in particular iPhones, iPads, and their Android equivalents – to access enterprise data and applications.  It has gained momentum among employees who would just as soon use their own preferred technology as anything the company would supply them.

Employees have done company work on home computers since the dawn of the floppy disk. BYOD represents something deeper. It’s the formal corporate recognition that user-owned hardware has become a fixture of modern business. This idea is being embraced by organizations that know that, while not without risk, letting employees use their own smartphones, laptops and computers can enhance their productivity and efficiency.

Does your firm allow employees to access work email and documents on their smartphone or home PC?

The idea of sensitive company data flying through the airwaves to computing devices the company doesn’t own is enough to make most compliance officers’ blood pressure rise. Further, because BYOD is so new a concept, few standards have emerged. Therefore, it is absolutely necessary for every business to have a clearly articulated but flexible position on BYOD, even if it chooses not to allow for it. However, at some companies it might be too late to turn back the clock on prohibiting the access of business data on personal devices.

  • When developing a corporate BYOD policy there are many details to consider.  Just a few of these include:
  • Stipend – Will the company reimburse the employee for part of the purchase cost of the device or the monthly cost of the device’s data plan?
  • Data Security – If the employee leaves, is terminated, or the device is lost/stolen, how will company information be removed from the device?
  • Budget – Just because the employee will bring their own hardware will managing their access be a neutral IT cost?
  • Liability – Will inappropriate personal use of the device cause any liability to the firm?

Finally, be sure to get out ahead of work-life balance issues when bringing BYOD options into the mix, either as a policy or a cultural norm. When employees have a personal smartphone enabled with enterprise applications, they are readily accessible as issues and opportunities crop up. But even in an ‘always on’ world, colleagues should be careful about routinely interrupting private time away from work. Set reasonable ground rules and expectations right up front and have supervisors walk the talk. This will keep intrusions into personal evenings and weekends a rarity, and BYOD a more satisfying and productive experience.