BYOD: The Future of the Workplace
The future of the workplace is evolving. No, we don’t all telecommute. Yes, many of us still slave away in dimly lit cubicles. Yet, more and more people and businesses are choosing to use technology and advancements in technology to their advantage.
One current trend that is gaining momentum is the adaptation of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies in the workplace. And this trend makes sense. After all, employees are increasingly mobile, and BYOD policies offer several benefits beyond the obvious reduction in new equipment costs for employers.
In the past, work and home was more compartmentalized. Employees had their work phones and home phone, their work computer and home computer. Work and home were completely different and the two did not meet. This faction between the two ultimately hinders connectivity. There is no flow between one and the other, as if “work” and “home” are different worlds entirely.
BYOD policies, remedy this connectivity issue. Mobile apps offered by VoIP companies like RingCentral allow calls to the “office” to be seamlessly routed to your personal cell phone. Allowing employees to use their own devices means that employees can conference, check email, manage voicemail, and more in the office, at the local coffee shop, or from the comfort of their own couch.
Because employees are more connected, with more fluidity, BYOD policies allow employees to be more productive. There is no longer a line drawn in the sand, and the possibilities of where and when tasks can be accomplished are open. Also, because employees are using their own devices, there is virtually no hardware learning curve.
BYOD policies allow employees to use the equipment that they are comfortable with, leaving more time for working and less time transitioning from “home” to “office.”
Increased productivity and connectivity ultimately translate to higher morale—which leads to even greater productivity. BYOD policies offer freedom and flexibility, also increasing employee morale.
While BYOD policies require employees to use their own devices—whether it is a laptop or smartphone— employees often prefer BYOD policies to the traditional arrangement. Currently, over 80% of companies currently allow their employees to bring their own devices to work. Knowing the benefits, it makes sense. Companies reduce operating costs while boosting connectivity, productivity, and morale. In fact, it’s surprising that percentage isn’t higher, given its benefits.
So what’s the hesitation?
Although BYOD policies have many advantages, they are not without risks. And these risks center on security—making BYOD integration less appealing. These security risks include:
- Stolen/Lost Devices
The loss or theft of your mobile device can have major security ramifications. If devices are not locked, there is essentially an all-access pass to sensitive business data. Even those with locked home screens are utilizing basic and easily over-ridden security precautions that can easily be bypassed by others.
- Mobile apps/unknown access
Many of us have apps on our personal devices. While malware is known to exist on third party apps, the implementation of BYOD policies means that it is not simply personal data at risk when these apps are downloaded and installed, but business data at risk as well. When employees are able to BYOD, there is less control over the installation of these mobile apps and therefore who potentially has access to sensitive data.
- Compliance difficulties
Documentation and compliance is difficult when incorporating BYOD policies. Since employees are using their own equipment, control of data and access is difficult—ultimately making documentation difficult. This can make security audits a nightmare for business.
- Misuse by former employee
Yet another control difficulty is the potential for abuse by disgruntled or former employees. Often, there is a gap between when employees leave and when their access is cut off. This challenge is not unique to BYOD policies and can also be a problem for those with access to corporate credit cards. Communication with HR and non-disclosure agreements can help limit this security risk, but little can stop a disgruntled employee from leaking business data to the competition beyond damage control afterward.
- Data tracking difficulties
BYOD makes it challenging for businesses to track data, which is useful in order to problem solve once a problem occurs, or intervene to prevent problems involving what data is accessed and passed along to whom and by whom, making data security more challenging.
While all of these risks can be minimized, security is a valid concern to address before incorporating BYOD policies in the workplace. That’s why it is important for companies that do adopt these policies have a security checklist in place, such as those mentioned here.
BYOD is definitely the future, but businesses should proceed with caution. Have a security checklist, make boundaries, and adjust company policy to include conduct parameters when using personal devices to help reduce security risks.