Bring-your-own-device (BYOD) has become an increasingly popular policy as more employees work both remotely and on-site from their mobile devices. This is especially popular for small businesses or companies with limited budgets — letting employees use their own devices is cheaper than investing in and distributing company devices. But is BYOD the right choice for your company in particular?
The answer depends on a number of factors. Even companies without big budgets to invest in worker tech may find that it makes more sense to find a way for company-owned devices — or conversely, those with less limited resources might find that BYOD is a better choice.
Here’s a look at the benefits and drawbacks of BYOD policies, and how you can decide what’s right for your business.
The advantages of BYOD
While the cost savings are usually the first benefit that comes to mind, perhaps the biggest advantage of a BYOD policy is productivity. Typically, your employees will be more productive when they’re working from a device they’re intimately familiar with.
However, it should be noted that there is a learning curve with company-issued devices, and employees can reach similar levels of productivity once they’ve used the new device enough.
Some of the other benefits of BYOD include:
- Cost savings: This applies not only to the initial device investment, but also to maintenance and upkeep expenses — which are typically the employees’ responsibility for personal devices.
- Increased responsibility: When employees use personal devices for work, they are fully responsible for handling them, which can decrease the occurrence of damage or device loss.
- Greater flexibility: With a BYOD policy, it’s easier to try different technologies or the latest tools without having to commit to costly upfront investments or get tied up in long-term contracts.
The disadvantages of BYOD
While a BYOD policy comes with many benefits, there are also some serious challenges to consider. These challenges can affect multiple departments in your company, including human resources and IT/security.
Some of the issues that can arise with BYOD include:
- Security challenges: With multiple users accessing your company’s network from potentially unprotected devices, it can be difficult to secure your data and systems.
- Resource consumption: The need to support a variety of operating systems and device formats can be draining on infrastructure and programming resources — not to mention your IT team.
- Increased costs: With BYOD, you may end up paying additional licensing fees to install programs on employees’ personal devices, unless you’re using Web-based software or VPN protocols.
- Employee dissatisfaction: In some cases, employees may consider company-issued devices a highly positive perk — and asking employees to purchase their own equipment for work may demotivate some of your staff.
What to do if you implement BYOD
If you decide that BYOD may be the right model for your business, it’s important to have a strategy for implementation — other than simply announcing that employees can use their personal devices at work. You’ll need a BYOD policy in place that covers things like:
- Whether employees are required to have personal devices, or if it’s optional to bring mobile devices to work.
- Who can use personal devices for work (some companies have BYOD policies that only permit personal devices for employees who travel frequently).
- Any usage implications or restrictions on personal devices (i.e. personal devices can be used for certain purposes, or at certain times).
- Software and security requirements for personal devices.
The use of mobile devices continues to increase, for both personal and professional areas. Whether your company chooses to implement BYOD or invest in company-issued devices, it’s important to address how you’ll handle mobile devices in the workplace, and set policies and best practices that make the most sense for your particular business.