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Bring Your Own Device – Tips for Creating Effective Policies

The Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend is gaining steam.

As people spend more time working while away from the actual workplace, smartphones and tablets are becoming increasingly popular tools to stay connected – and productive. Rather than providing these devices, many employers are allowing employees to choose the technology they use for work – hence the acronym “BYOD.”

When employees are allowed to use their own devices in the workplace, they enjoy enhanced mobility, better job satisfaction and improved productivity. But along with these benefits comes additional risk. Beyond the obvious IT issues, HR now faces new challenges to effectively balance employee and business demands, while minimizing employer liabilities. Here are a few potential concerns:

  • Wage and hour issues. When employees work while away from the office, how do you accurately track time and calculate pay?
  • Harassment. When employees are using their own devices to communicate, how do you effectively enforce your company’s anti-harassment policies?
  • Important company information. If you have a BYOD policy, employees may need to store sensitive documents or protected information on their personal devices. When you terminate someone, how do you retrieve and delete that information?

To reap the benefits of BYOD while also protecting your company, develop a smart implementation policy. Use these tips from A.R. Mazzotta to get started:

  1. Know what technology your employees are using. A BYOD program that doesn’t support current and intended purchases will have limited appeal.
  2. Define baselines for BYOD device security and supportability features. Work with IT to develop minimum acceptable standards in areas such as encryption, virus protection, password protection, remote lock/wipe, and configurations for email, wi-fi and VPNs. Doing so will minimize both security breaches and support headaches.
  3. Clearly communicate which devices are allowed, and why. This will prevent users from purchasing unsupported devices and/or becoming frustrated with service levels from IT.
  4. Explain how your existing policies, including pay and harassment, apply to BYOD device usage.
  5. Establish procedures and guidelines for how and where to store company information. Be sure to include restrictions on cloud-based storage, as well as syncing BYOD devices with other devices in employees’ homes.
  6. Set appropriate limits on using cameras and making personal calls (including texting and messaging) during the work day.
  7. Provide emergency plans, so employees know what to do if their equipment is lost, stolen, hacked or damaged.
  8. Include a provision for how BYOD devices will be handled if an employee quits or is terminated. Consider requiring employees to sign a release saying that they understand you may need to recover data from their devices at their time of exit.
  9. Plan ahead. Technology is constantly evolving; so must your BYOD policy. Periodically review the newest devices and develop an easy certification plan to incorporate the best.

As with all policy development, a little thought and planning go a long way in ensuring successful implementation. By effectively balancing employer and employee needs with a sound BYOD policy, you can ensure a positive user experience while still protecting your company.