‘Bring Your Own Device’ policies are growing in popularity
amongst small business owners. Lured by the thought of
reducing overhead costs, many entrepreneurs are
encouraging their employees to use their own mobile
devices in the workplace, rather than relying on in-house hardware.
The benefits of having a BYOD policy are numerous, particularly for
small business owners who need to keep overheads as low as possible.
However, there are also potential pitfalls to be avoided.
Here are some of the pros and cons of offering a BYOD policy to your employees:
Many employers introduce a BYOD policy for financial reasons. The cost of buying the necessary hardware and software for each employee can be crippling, particularly for startups and small businesses. BYOD device policies transfer these costs to your staff, allowing you to invest your startup capital elsewhere.
Often, BYOD policies give companies access to up-to-date technology, which they might not be able to afford otherwise. Generally, employees upgrade their personal devices far more often than company-supplied gadgets would be.
Some entrepreneurs believe that BYOD policies can improve worker productivity. Employees have access to their work devices all the time – not just during office hours – and are therefore more likely to put in overtime.
Similarly, when staff members are provided with company-owned devices, it generally takes time for them to become completely familiar with the new software. BYOD policies eliminate this period of acclimatisation, as workers are already comfortable with their own devices. Employees are also more likely to take care of their own gadgets, reducing replacement and repair costs.
There are some legal complications surrounding BYOD policies, which could deter small business owners. In many countries, once an employee-owned device has been used for work purposes, the company is jointly responsible for any laws broken with the device. Businesses could find themselves implicated in a range of cases, from sexual harassment and driving whilst talking on the phone, to illegal comments on social media.
With company-provided devices, it’s relatively simple to prevent employees from taking their gadgets out of the office, and for IT departments to restrict access to certain sites and applications. However, if the hardware belongs to the employee, it becomes extremely difficult for employers to do this – workers will understandably resist having restrictions placed on their personal devices. Businesses with a BYOD policy therefore run the risk of employees using non work-related applications and games during office hours.
BYOD policies also create extra security concerns for businesses, as it’s more difficult for employers to keep tabs on data. If employees use cloud technology on their devices, confidential company information could easily slip out of the office network. It can also be tricky removing data from an ex-employee’s device.
Although many employers find that BYOD policies ultimately reduce business expenses, this isn’t always the case. If the company is paying for employee data plans, these must be strictly controlled to avoid surprise charges and extortionate bills.
If you’re considering allowing your employees to work with their own devices, it’s important to thoroughly examine the various benefits and potential problems. If you do opt for a BYOD scheme, you’ll need to create a fully comprehensive policy, which clearly outlines how employees are allowed to use their devices, along with mandatory security measures. You also need to decide how much – if anything – you’re willing to pay each employee for their data plan, and the level of technical support you’re willing to provide for hardware. BYOD policies can prove highly beneficial for small businesses – but, as with many schemes, there are also risks to be considered.
This article was written exclusively for Technology in Business by Matt
Everard of Barrington International Freight, a family run logistics company.