In the modern world where your employees may often own newer technology than you as a company, the temptation to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD / BYOT) and use it for work purposes are great and many employees are eager to do so. In certain industries it is being embraced too creating a wave of interest across cash-strapped industries who see it as a way of avoiding investment in the latest IT. However, BYOT is potential minefield in terms of liability, so here’s our top 6 tips on making it work within your company.
1 Make sure you have a written code
Setting the parameters now will make it much easier in the future. While it might seem a bit draconian to have codes of conduct for everything, it is also common sense and heads-off a multitude of problems before they arise. Remember codes of conduct can be amended – tightened up or loosened according to feedback and requirements – but having something in place before you start promoting any scheme is essential.
2 Encourage but don’t insist
If you are going to embrace BYOT, do so correctly. Allow your staff to use their equipment within parameters but don’t insist upon it. People can be very protective over their personal goods and being forced to blur the edges between work and personal may be a step too far for many. Don’t risk losing your best people just because they won’t let you take advantage of their superfast new computer for your business gain. You wouldn’t expect an employee to lend you their shiny new supercar just because you are their boss, so respect the same in terms of technology too.
3 Don’t forget your own obligations
Even if your entire workforce embrace the idea and are happy to be using their own equipment, don’t forget to invest in your own IT. Firstly, you have an obligation to make sure the infrastructure people are connecting too is up to scratch, both in terms of performance and safety, so focus your attentions on making sure it is up to the job – especially if more and more devices are connecting to your WiFi network for instance. There is still a need for you to invest in your own devices too. People will forget their own devices from time to time, or they will be lost, stolen or in need for repair. You can’t afford for your business to stop for those sort of reasons, so have facilities for people to do their jobs adequately without having to bring their own devices.
4 Security is paramount
If you thought protecting data was difficult within your own environment, going down the BYOD route multiplies the risks. Who else has access to the personal device when out of the office? It’s great that employees encourage their children to use technology but not if that is technology that holds sensitive data. For example your customer is not going to be too happy if they receive a telephone call to their personal mobile at 6am on a Sunday morning because your employee’s child was bored and was playing with a parent’s personal phone that is also used for business. Viruses and malware are also a bigger risk. Consider regular checks and encourage good housekeeping. Make sure your network alert infrastructure is also up to date.
5 Separate work from personal
It may sound like common sense, but it is easy to loose sight of it when work and personal definitions blur. It is worth ensuring separate email and communication clients are installed to keep business away from personal. That way you can ensure the correct and required email footers always go out with company communications. Be particularly careful with smartphones and tablets. Multiple Twitter accounts on a single device for example could risk a potentially embarrassing ‘night-out’ photographs being shared on your corporate account. Consider 3G usage too if you encourage BYOD’rs to use their equipment for business beyond the office. If they go over their personal account limits, they may expect you to foot a very expensive bill.
6 Check insurance
Things will go wrong, so make sure you know how to act when it does. Those using their own phone or laptop are possibly less likely to lose it than they would a company issued one as they have a vested interest in it, but if it is stolen or lost, who is liable? Many personal covers won’t include the full value of a multitude of technology items and many more are likely to refuse to pay-out if they learn the loss came about when on business use. In which case check your own policy, if you don’t own the item is it insured when it is on your use?
It might sound scary and something to avoid adopting, but the truth is, in ten years this will probably be the norm. Bring your own device isn’t actually new to most workplaces anyway. The majority of firms already probably encourage employees to use their own cars for company business. Think what procedures you have in place for that – insurance checks, MOT checks etc. Make sure you at least replicate those in terms of other technology.
Do you encourage BYOD? What measures do you have in place?