BYOD: A Policy of Freedom

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Bring your own device policies, or BYOD policies, have had employees and employers on the fence since they were first introduced in 2009. Some are for them, and some are against while others will work however their company best deems fit for their industry. As our workforce becomes more tech-savvy, a BYOD policy becomes a certain amount of freedom allowed to employees.

As with any policy, there are positive and negative aspects that should be addressed. Below, we will discuss how these freedoms can be used to better your company while including some cons to the system that are just as important. When instating your BYOD policy, several key items should be addressed so that your employees understand the boundaries of the company. It is also important to balance the cost versus savings when implementing these policies, figuring out whether the short-term cost will balance the long-term savings.

The Positives

A BYOD policy gives employees the freedom to choose how they want to work. One of the positives pointed out by NI Business Info is the ability to choose your device. People can be picky when it comes to what family of electronic devices they use. Some prefer Apple and others prefer Windows. A higher familiarity with the product can lead to improved work performance and increased productivity. When someone is already familiar with the system, they only need to be trained on the programs themselves rather than starting from the ground up.

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When people use devices given to them by someone else, they may not treat them with as much care as when they are using their own devices. They understand the worth of a device more intimately having purchased it themselves rather than having it handed to them from an IT department.

Another huge incentive for businesses to adopt a BYOD policy is lower costs. Not only does the cost of the device fall to employees, but it also cuts costs for software licenses. IT is also able to devote hours elsewhere that might have been devoted solely to hardware maintenance and device management. With more hours in the day to work on what needs to be done, IT will have more opportunities to work on other projects on time.

The Negatives

While there are several positives to a BYOD policy, there are also several negatives to address. The most important of which are security issues. Having a BYOD policy in place allows more mobility amongst your workforces. While on the go, they are more likely to lose or have a device stolen. A stolen device does not only require them to buy a new one, but the software on the device will also have to be replaced and the time spent without a device could have been spent working on their projects.

Another security issue that will have to be addressed is hackers. As we have moved into a mobile space for technology, so do hackers. Viruses are being made to target mobile browsers, and app stores, and can spread through wireless networks with ease. IT will need to address these issues with powerful blocking software to ensure the safety of not only the single device, but any device attached to the work network.

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Using their own devices may cause some concerns for your employees. A work-life balance is becoming more important to workers today and having their device connected intimately with their employer can cause employees to worry about their privacy. It is vital that BYOD policies cover employee privacy and how the information on their device will be used.

Overcoming the Negatives

With challenges come solutions. It is important to address any concerns your employees have directly. Many companies run their employees around when they are looking for answers but addressing them openly and honestly, can help alleviate concerns.

The biggest concern with BYOD policies is security. The policy should explain in detail what should happen if an employee loses their device. You can read further on how these measures can be put in place here, with an article from the Digital Guardian. In short, the employee should understand measures they can take to prevent someone from getting into their device should it be lost or stolen as well as software that will help guard against hackers and viruses.

To achieve a proper work-life balance while using the device, the policy should include limitations on work hours depending on scheduling. If someone does not want to deal with work outside of their designated working hours, they should not have to. Connecting to the workplace constantly adds a deep layer of stress to their lives that can be easily avoided by getting a better work-life balance.

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Implementing a BYOD Plan

Once your company has decided to implement a BYOD policy, it can have great side effects. If the policy is not put forth properly, it can also have negative side effects. All policies should be thought over thoroughly before they are implemented, and a BYOD policy is just the same. It can give your employees freedom of choice but instill fear of loss from work-life balance. While they can work from anywhere, they are also vulnerable to loss and theft. Your IT department may have more hours to spend on other projects, but your employees may be forced to lose hours on their projects should they lose their devices.

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With each negative, a solution can be found. It may seem like a daunting task, but the positive possibilities of a BYOD plan outweigh the negatives. You can read further into the positive and negative aspects of instating a BYOD policy here: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/bring-your-own-device-byod-job-policy-4139870. Your employees will have a certain amount of freedom they do not have with computers tied to a desk in their office. While there is vulnerability, it can be taken care of with firewalls and antivirus software.

The happiness of your employees will lead to better productivity. Once you have instated the policy, you will likely find it results in a positive outcome for everyone involved.