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Is BYOD right for you?

Many organizations are approaching the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) method of working in different ways. Some have adopted BYOD and seen many benefits, whilst others appear to be rejecting it, feeling that it is not appropriate for their organization.

As we discussed in our mobile email signature post, more and more workers are using their own smartphones and tablet PCs to access their work emails in and out of the office. However, many organizations don’t have a policy in place to manage these devices, increasing the risk of sensitive corporate data being leaked or the company network becoming infected.

Formal BYOD policies and solutions can help mitigate these risks. Such policies can have positive effects by improving employee satisfaction and increasing overall productivity. Let’s look at some reasons for and against having a BYOD policy for your staff, so you can make your own decision as to whether you feel it is the right thing for your organization.

For BYOD
Giving employees the ability to pick up their emails and contacts in a limited fashion is usually considered to be the best implementation of a formal BYOD policy. It is relatively simple for an organization to monitor and log what websites employees visit on their mobile devices and it is also prudent to make them all abide by a code of conduct when in a main office.

Another plus point is that management can forbid any pornographic or offensive material ever being viewed in the office. Most employees realize that they cannot view anything offensive on their desktop PC, but may feel that they can view whatever they want when using their own device. When you are in a corporate office environment, viewing such materials online can be akin to bringing in a printed version, which would never normally be permitted.

In other words, BYOD policies can ensure that employees focus on their job and keep within rules that they are expected to follow. Different employees will have different opinions on what they consider to be offensive, but an organization HAS to consider the potential legal liability of what can happen if someone finds something really distasteful, even if the material is not downloaded on a company’s own network.

Against BYOD
BYOD programs require IT staff to support and administer many types of devices. They need to be familiar with the different handsets that employees bring into an organization (iPhone, Android, Blackberry etc.), learn how to set up multiple applications on different mobile platforms and teach end users how to use different apps on these platforms. This is an extra burden for an IT department where time is often at a premium.

To get around this, some organizations find it easier to provide employees with company-owned mobile devices rather than go down the BYOD path. By identifying which employees NEED a mobile phone to do their job, a management team can budget on a capped cost . This means that there is no risk of employees using their own devices for work and submitting all sorts of bills for voice calls that they used for work purposes.

If employees start to use a device for work purposes, some will expect their company to take on some responsibility for the device and its costs. An example would be if someone had to make a long distance call to a client and it ended up costing them a small fortune when they received their phone bill.

By standardizing mobiles and having your employees work on one platform, all queries don’t have to end up back at IT. Otherwise, individuals have to take more responsibility for troubleshooting personal devices, as it is not feasible for their helpdesk to provide the same level of backup that they do for corporate devices. Colleagues can help each other learn how to use a particular function on a phone, which becomes difficult when employees are using a myriad of platforms.