How long did you spend guessing what the acronym stands for? A while? Not long? If you were quick off the mark, chances are your company has adopted a Bring Your Own Device to work policy. Gone are the days of being provided with a company laptop and phone, as businesses move towards allowing their employees to use their own personal smartphone or tablet for work purposes.
In an effort to cut costs, companies are BYOD-ing with increasing vigour. Statistics speak for the advantages; a report published by Cisco in 2012 found 89% of companies in the nine countries queried to have enabled their employees to use their own devices at work. Companies save not only on supplying the actual hardware and software but also because of increased productivity as working offsite becomes a possibility.
Yet, one would have thought that such a policy would have provoked some backlash on the basis that company technology, previously provided, is now being funded out of employees’ pockets. Furthermore, is there the unspoken expectation that employees should be working around the clock, leaving the office only then to work from home?
On the contrary, research shows that being able to use your own devices at work actually increases employee satisfaction. As Dermot McCann, Managing Director Australia and New Zealand at Kaseya, states, “Mobile professionals have their own clear preferences, whether it’s Android or Apple’s iOS iPhone and iPad devices, and they don’t want their employer dictating one over the other”. This is what companies can capitalise on; with the general public now being the net consumers of avant-garde technology, buying the latest models as soon as they become available, companies can bypass the installation of new IT systems which is time consuming and costly. If employees already have cutting-edge technology, it makes little sense to purchase it twice. Hallelujah for management intent on cost-cutting and improving employee satisfaction.
However, here’s the hitch:
With the need for multiple operating systems to access a central corporate IT system from anywhere, company security is increasingly at risk. As employees store files on their smartphones, keeping track of confidential property is proving somewhat of a headache for the IT department. Lawyers are equally perplexed at how to draw up a liability contract when the line between the personal and professional spheres has become so blurred. With greater power to employees, who is responsible for the safeguarding of company material: IT or the individual?
As such, the implementation of BYOD requires increased employee training on adhering to the latest privacy procedures as well as advice on how to protect company confidentiality. Having raised some of the most common concerns, here are some steps you should follow as an employee of a company which has adopted BYOD:
- Acquaint yourself with the company policy on the use of personal devices in the workplace. Make sure you know the limits and the responsibilities of the policy.
- Check whether your company obliges you to install certain security/antivirus software or encrypt your device.
- Have you backed up your device according to company guidelines? Data loss may be your responsibility.
- Ensure that you have downloaded (and know how to implement) the appropriate device wiping app in the event that your phone/tablet gets lost or stolen.