BYOD is an acronym which stands for “bring your own device.” It is a policy that organizations have begun implementing as a cost-savings measure on equipment assets. Many employees already own computers, smartphones, and other mobile devices that may be useful, or required, to complete their job duties.
With a BYOD policy, the worker brings their device and uses it for work functions. In return for this use, the employee may receive some type of compensation or benefit because their assets, instead of company assets, are being used for professional purposes.
Is BYOD a good policy for companies to follow? Is it beneficial to the workers who are asked to bring their own devices to work? Here are some of the key BYOD pros and cons to examine.
List of the Pros of BYOD
1. This policy allows companies to benefit from cutting-edge features and new devices.
Individuals upgrade their technology more frequently than companies. Workers can often obtain upgrades for their personal devices at a cheaper cost than an organization. Features like a virtual assistant, 4G LTE access, speed upgrades, high-quality photographs, and full access to app stores allow workers to be more productive on a device with which they are familiar.
2. A BYOD policy often makes an employee happier.
When an organization requires workers to use company-based technology for their job, it often requires workers to juggle multiple technology items. If the worker must maintain a work laptop, a work cell phone, and a work tablet, that means they might be lugging 6+ devices to work every day. Workers who get to use their own devices are usually happier because they are more familiar with the device. There is also less financial pressure on them to replace a work device that might be lost or damaged outside of work hours.
3. It reduces the costs of technology for companies.
Field-service companies often see the biggest gains when implementing a BYOD policy for the first time. All companies in every industry, however, experience financial benefits with this type of policy. The cost of supplying the technology shifts to each worker. That means a company is no longer responsible for device costs, voice and data plans, service fees, or licensing fees. By subsidizing a small portion of the employees’ cost for these items, everyone feels like they benefit from the policy.
4. BYOD policies improve the workplace environment.
There is less training downtime for devices when a bring your own device policy is implemented. Workers already know how to use their personal devices. That means they can get to work faster and be more productive because they don’t need to be trained on something new. Workers are more familiar with the full capabilities of their personal devices as well, which further enhances the productivity that is possible.
5. Information access is better.
If your company can turn around projects faster, then you’ll have happier customers. Happier customers usually create more overall revenues. To achieve these goals, workers need to have information available to them, no matter where they happen to be. The information needs to be retrieved quickly to prevent unproductive downtime. Older devices do not retrieve information as quickly as newer devices. By implementing a BYOD policy, an organization creates a flexible platform that can keep them up-to-date with everything they need to complete their job.
List of the Cons of BYOD
1. It creates a host of security problems.
There are ways to work around the security issues of a BYOD policy. An organization can require that employee devices by registered with the company to have them monitored. You can require back-up software, antivirus software, or specific password protection policies be implemented. You can create policies that restrict public Wi-Fi use. All of this can lead to lower levels of employee satisfaction. Putting stipulations onto an employee-owned device, even if it is only during working hours, feels like an invasion of privacy.
2. There is no consistency in the quality of devices being used.
Some workers always upgrade to the latest iPhone or Samsung device. Then there are workers who are still using an iPad 2 or a laptop from 2008 because it works for them. Although companies do save money on the actual asset costs when a BYOD policy is implemented, there are added end-user support costs to pay. On a team of 10 people, you might find 8 different devices supported by 6 different operating systems. Being able to refer someone to the correct help they need can be a difficult process to follow.
3. BYOD creates software difficulties for some users.
Your organization may have specific software that must be run to complete projects. Employees bringing their own devices to work may experience difficulties in the installation or usage processes required for this software. Their devices may not even be compatible with the software. A thorough review of what is available to workers and how well the software may be working can be helpful in reducing costs in this area. Implementing a SaaS solution may be helpful as well. There are always outliers, however, that will struggle to use their devices.
4. There are legal issues to consider.
If your proprietary information is on an employee’s personal device, how secure is that information when the worker isn’t at work? There are several privacy and legal issues which must be considered before implementing a BYOD policy for the first time. Some data may be illegal for workers to transfer. There may be legal obligations about retaining, storing, or deleting certain forms of data. Hourly workers may be able to make a legal claim for compensation if they access work-related data outside of their regular shift. It is important for an organization to meet with their legal team to ensure there aren’t any unpleasant surprises lurking on the horizon.
5. A worker’s right to privacy can be difficult to maintain with BYOD.
As Mark Zuckerberg was asked during a U.S. Congressional hearing over Facebook privacy issues: “Would you like to share with us what hotel you stayed at last night?” We all want to have some level of privacy for ourselves and our families. BYOD policies mean personal information can be accessed by employers. Having personal contact data, personal emails, and other personal information must be safeguarded. There is an obligation to protect worker personal data. Failing to do so can provide costly consequences.
There are several BYOD pros and cons to think about for the corporation and the employee. It is a policy that can save money and improve production because it encourages device familiarity. It can also be a morale killer because of a perceived (or real) lack of privacy that such a policy requires. BYOD is becoming more common, which means we must all become familiar with these key pros and cons.