BYOD is shorthand for “bring your own device.” Businesses use the acronym to describe a situation in which employees bring their personal smartphones, laptops, and tablets to the office to do work.
Historically, companies didn’t like the idea. Work and pleasure should be different, as they saw it.
Now, though, that’s all changed, and most companies think that BYOD policies are better for their firms. The reasons for this change in perspective are complex, but it is a definite trend.
Technology has become a pervasive part of life over the last ten years. Remember, in 2010, smartphones were still a novelty. People were still getting used to them and the impact that they were having. Experts predicted that we’d have a flurry of app millionaires, and that’s precisely what we got.
At the same time, people became extraordinarily attached to their devices. They are often the first thing that they check in the morning and the last thing at night before they go to bed. Some workplaces tried to block colleagues from using their phones on-site in the early days. But all that soon went out of the window. Colleagues want to have their devices on their person all day long.
A few innovative companies decided to take a punt on letting colleagues use their devices at work for work. At the time, it was a radical idea, but the reasons for it are easy to understand. Savvy business leaders saw how much their colleagues loved their notebooks and smartphones and saw an opportunity to save money.
BYOD policies were also geared towards making the workplace a fairer place. It didn’t seem right that remote workers were allowed to use whatever device they wanted, while regular office workers weren’t. Bring-your-own-device, therefore, was a smart way of leveling the playing field.
Currently, around 60 percent of workplaces allow colleagues to use their personal devices for work purposes. A further 20 percent or so say that they have plans to introduce such schemes in the year ahead.
The popularity of BYOD, therefore, is in no doubt. But should your business do it? What are the pros and cons?
Here are some of the benefits of adopting a BYOD policy.
The biggest reason for choosing a BYOD policy is the savings you can expect. When colleagues spend their money on their devices, it means you don’t have to provide computer equipment for them. Furthermore, you don’t have to spend hours wiring up your offices or employing people to maintain complex systems. A bit of WiFi should do the trick.
Employees are also much more likely to take care of their personal devices than business phones and computers. In the past, companies were forever having to replace equipment, often at a high cost. However, colleagues will often treat their devices much better if they’ve had to pay for them.
You wouldn’t think it, but employees seem to have higher productivity when allowed to bring their own devices to work. There’s something about using one’s personal computer that makes a massive difference. Research suggests that productivity is around 30 percent higher when employees do this – the equivalent to working all of Saturday and part of Sunday.
The support for personal devices is excellent. Some of the world’s biggest companies, like Apple, Google, and others, are continually working to serve the broader market. Updates, therefore, come through thick and fast, solving practically every problem users encounter.
Updating conventional business systems, however, is a long and time-consuming process. Plus, update frequency is much slower, leaving you open to security breaches.
There’s No Learning Curve
Finally, there’s no learning curve when you adopt a BYOD policy. People generally know how to operate their devices correctly. The same is not necessarily true when you implement business-only computers.
There are, of course, some disadvantages to choosing a BYOD policy too.
It’s A Security Risk
BYOD policies are a security risk. Workers could lose their devices to and from work. Company information could fall into the wrong hands, which might be devastating.
Businesses, therefore, need to pay special attention to security when implementing a BYOD policy. All devices need securing using advanced strategies.
Security risks, though, tend to go all the way to the level of the hardware. The main difference between consumer and business Microsoft Surface devices, for instance, is that the commercial versions have more security features. If your colleagues are using regular consumer options, they won’t get all these additional features.
Loss Of Privacy
Most employees want to draw a clear line between their work lives and their private lives. But when you institute a BYOD policy, that becomes more difficult. Managers and employees know that they’re contactable at any time of the day or night. And inevitably, working hours tend to encroach on leisure time. It’s easy for colleagues to fire off emails to each other when they have a problem, even if the recipient isn’t supposed to be working.
There’s another privacy issue, too: the fact that colleagues can leave your firm at any time and join another, with all your data still on their devices. The employee may share this information with a rival, putting your entire enterprise at risk.
IT Is More Difficult
Finally, operating a BYOD policy is often more challenging from an IT perspective than just running a regular server setup. Devices aren’t standard, so you can’t just apply blanket policies across the board and expect them to work. Secondly, you need to think much more carefully about your security arrangements. Ideally, you want to contain “business stuff” in a secure portal. Colleagues should be able to carry out all their regular tasks remotely. But third-parties should not be able to access critical information, even if they get hold of the device.
Providing this sort of IT is both challenging and expensive. Often you have to hire a third party team to provide you with the full support you need. It’s not easy by any stretch of the imagination.