Bring Your Own Device: Trend or IT Headache?
If you're a big fan of using your own laptop at work, you might be in luck. Businesses all around the world are beginning to recognize the benefits of allowing employees to bring along their own devices from home, essentially relieving the company from having to supply those pesky computers that always seem to break down at the most inconvenient moments. As with all good things, however, there are a few snags in the plan.
Namely, security and policy. Smartphones, tablets and portable computers are incredible modes of convenience, but when used for work, decision-makers are often left wondering how they'll ever be able to monitor what happens in someone else's digital world where Oscar gowns and Jennifer Lawrence are more important than their workloads. At the same time, attempting to ban smartphones and other electronic devices is moot - they're everywhere, and trying to stop people from bringing them into the building will just give you a headache.
Thus, if you are an executive planning to allow your staff members to forego the office equipment for their own resources, make sure you've thought long and hard about the following small business tips:
1. Build guidelines that work.
The policies that govern a BYOD strategy are not necessarily different from the standard, run-of-the-mill rules and guidelines in place with office equipment. The do's and don'ts are typically similar. For instance, avoid using your office computer for non-work tasks, like searching for new jobs or catching up with Aunt Miriam. With a personal computer, however, it becomes much more challenging for decision-makers to govern this. That's where trust and a little strategy come in to play:
Teach employees that you're watching other things, instead.
Try not to hover. If people who are using their own computers sense that you're lingering behind them more often than usual, they might feel trapped or picked on. Besides - if George using an office computer in the cubicle next door always has Facebook up and is never reprimanded, employees who take advantage of the BYOD shouldn't feel harassed for doing the same thing. Instead, remind them that their productivity is the most important thing - and that you have ways of keeping up with that, regardless of the time spent browsing social media.
Share the policies freely.
Some companies that have adopted a BYOD strategy have a few clauses embedded in their guidelines that allow employers the freedom to perform remote wipes of data. This is all fine and good for the sake of safeguarding confidential information, but the staff members should be fully aware of this potential hazard before they bring their smartphones to the job. The Wall Street Journal highlighted a few cases recently of employers remotely stripping employees' cell phones of data, effectively returning them to their factory settings, without informing them first. This action may have occurred after the staff members left the company, but this negative publicity is certainly working its way through the on-site rumor mills now. How can other employees trust that the same won't happen to them? Make sure any policies are open knowledge.
2. Security is a must.
Once you've decided how these portable tools will be useful in the office setting, it's important to make sure that the data will stay safe. One of the lingering problems with this policy is that staff members forget that they're essentially walking around with their companies' entire library of information. As hackers and cyberthieves are always lurking in the digital shadows, waiting to snag data from unwitting passersby, it might be worth your time and resources to teach employees who are taking advantage of BYOD how to secure their devices. By showing people how to effectively monitor their own tools, you'll have better luck staving off accidental security breaches.