In fact, the concept is not entirely new. But it has taken on a new dimension with the Covid-19 crisis and the development of telecommuting. We are talking about BYOD (Bring your own Device) which allows employees to use their personal computer device at work. How to effectively implement such a policy and what are the advantages and pitfalls? Stay tuned to find out.
What does the “Bring Your Own Device” model look like?
This is an organizational model in which employees are allowed to use their personal digital devices. With this system, you bring your own phone, your own laptop, your own tablet to do your work. This gives employees the ability to perform their tasks more comfortably as they use the tools they prefer.
For example, the possibility of using one's own Android or Apple type smartphone allows the employee greater flexibility of use and better productivity. Indeed, using his own mobile device avoids risks of forgetfulness and allows him to go faster in the realization of tasks, since he chose his own smartphone and is comfortable with it.
BYOD device benefits and drawbacks
If more and more companies are adopting this solution, it is because the principle has many advantages both for the structure and for the employees themselves. But beware, there are also pitfalls and it is imperative to avoid them.
What are its advantages in the workplace?
Letting employees work with the devices they are familiar with is a source of productivity gains, as shown by a survey conducted by the American IT giant Cisco in six countries (United States, United Kingdom, India, Brazil, China, Germany). According to the survey, in the six territories concerned, 9% of employees earn between two and three hours per week thanks to BYOD, 6% earn between three and four hours and 21% even exceed the four-hour mark.
Another positive consequence is that it improves employee engagement and job satisfaction, as employees work on the tools of their choice. A virtuous circle can then be set in motion. More engaged and motivated teams will lead to better performance, better employee retention and, ultimately, better business results.
Finally, for companies, the benefits are also measured in terms of cost savings. They no longer have to provide (and therefore purchase) and maintain the equipment that employees use. According to Cisco, full BYOD saves a large company $1,300 per year per mobile user.
A good fit for remote work
BYOD is particularly beneficial in connection with HR remote jobs. It allows employees to work from anywhere, at any time of the day (or night). The proof is in the massive migration to remote work that is taking place at the height of the Covid crisis (2020), when containment has been most tightly controlled.
According to data collected by Bitglass, a company that specializes in cloud security, the solution has been widely used with the growth of telecommuting. As a result, 69% of managers surveyed have allowed employees to use their own devices to complete work assignments. In fact, with the democratization of telecommuting, the majority of companies have adopted BYOD. The two concepts do go hand in hand.
But a potential danger for the company's security
This is perhaps the biggest pitfall: BYOD cybersecurity. Allowing employees to use their own devices, which are not necessarily very secure, can lead companies to take huge risks. So BYOD security is of huge importance. That is why companies are obligated to implement appropriate policies and protocols to reduce these risks.
The BYOD security best practices should include guidelines for device security and BYOD management solutions. For example, it can be a set of requirements that all devices used for business purposes must have a password or security key.
This may also include fingerprint locking, the use of two-factor authentication for company applications, and ensuring that the latest security updates have been installed. The company may also require employees to install a mobile device management (MDM) software on their devices, which allows it to remotely shut down the connection to the company network if the device is lost or stolen or if the employee leaves the firm.
Data encryption, authentication tools like multi-factor identification, and the ability to remotely lock or wipe devices are just a few of the ways that MDM solutions can help organizations to implement effective security measures.
The issue of storing and sharing company data on personal devices must also be addressed appropriately. For example, management can require employees to use a specific cloud service to store and share data and prohibit the use of services on the employees' personal cloud.
One last thing: the use of personal computer equipment in the workplace raises another issue. By using their personal tools in the context of their professional activity, employees run the risk that their equipment will get damaged a little faster. What happens in case of loss or theft? If the employee has to replace his smartphone, tablet or computer, will it be at his own expense? To these questions, the company must give clear answers.
So, how to implement a BYOD system?
These are some tips to effectively implement a BYOD program in a company.
- Assess your business needs: you have to determine the types of devices and applications your employees need to do their jobs and how they will access company data and resources.
- Develop a BYOD policy: this policy, which is mandatory, must outline guidelines for using personal devices for business purposes. It must be clear and detailed enough to be understood by all.
- Give BYOD education to your employees: you have to give them all the keys to understand the use of personal devices in the context of their professional activities. That means how to use and secure their devices, and also how to access company data and resources.
- Implement security measures: BYOD security solutions should be robust, such as mobile device management software (MDM), to protect the company’s data and information assets. MDM ensures users get the access they want from their devices and enterprises maintain the security they need (see also above for more details).
- Monitor and evaluate: this is a constant imperative. You have to test the effectiveness of your system on a recurring basis in order to make any necessary adjustments.
Today, there are many examples of successful BYOD implementations. Here are some:
Dell Technologies, a multinational company, implemented a BYOD policy for its employees and saw a significant increase in productivity and employee satisfaction. Same results for Salesforce, a customer relationship management software company, that has also taken this road with success. And as for IT giant IBM, its BYOD policy for its employees has led to increased productivity and cost savings for the company.
However, “Bring your own device” programs are not just for large or IT companies. It is estimated that more than 80% of firms have adopted them, in various configurations, either partially or fully because of the many benefits such programs provide: more productive and effective teams, fewer hardware, software, and maintenance expenses, faster adoption of cutting-edge technologies, a happier workforce with higher employee retention rates.
At the same time, it is important to understand that BYOD in the workplace is not a universal solution. Sometimes, that system may not be the best fit for the organization. There are always potential risks and challenges associated with it. For instance, a firm that deals with highly sensitive data, such as health data, does not necessarily have to become a BYOD company.