Should businesses embrace BYOD?

We’ve been interested to read about the emerging concept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) which is where companies offer staff the chance to choose and provide the devices they use for work – a laptop, desktop, mac, tablet etc.

It is suggested that this is highly important when it comes to attracting young, talented employees. Absolute Software found that globally 40% of college students and 45% of employees would rather accept a lower paying job with a choice of device, than a higher paying job with less flexibility.

As smartphones and tablets become increasingly available for personal use, businesses have come under more and more pressure to let their employees choose what they want to use to do their work. Businesses are therefore starting to embrace BYOD rather than fight it.

So how would an organisation handle the practicalities of employees using their own devices for work? The company might cover either all or part of the expense, on the understanding that the employee also purchases a support package. Or it might simply provide software to allow employees to access a virtual desktop on their own devices. One company which adopts BYOD does not provide IT support for Apple Macs, instead staff who choose to use Macs get support through internal wikis and mailers where other employees offer possible solutions to their problems. This is preferred by employees.

Most schemes also allow for access via a virtual private network or similar software application to ensure that data was held securely on the company servers.

So, in this current economic climate, we can see more companies encouraging their staff to use their own phones and/or laptops for business use on the road; but it is worth considering the following:

  • Billing is shifted to the staff member, who may not be being reimbursed for the extra usage over and above what they would have normally on a personal device
  • Staff members may not have a compatible phone for essential app use or email access; so the staff member may have to pay for an expensive new device to  work effectively.
  • Any personal hardware that the staff member uses may not be insured for loss or theft.  What happens if this occurs?  Does the staff member lose pay or be penalised if they have no kit to work from?  What would be the businesses contingency?
  • If using a personal laptop, is the staff member licensed to use their particular operating system for business use?
  • What are the legalities for storing business sensitive data on personal devices?  Are the personal devices capable of being made password      secure?
  • Where is the business sensitive data on these personal devices backed up; and how frequently?