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Craft a Bring Your Own Device Policy That Works for Your Company

Easily accessible devices simplify the process of communicating with colleagues, but they can also cause distractions for employees. When employees bring their personal smartphone, laptop, tablet or other devices to work for professional use, it’s referred to as “bring your own device,” or BYOD. Outlining what types of devices can be used and when they’re permitted is vital for both employers and employees. Establishing a strong BYOD policy prevents potential issues and streamlines the use of individual devices.

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What is a BYOD policy?

Bring your own device policies specify when and how employees can use their personal devices for work purposes. Every company should have some kind of BYOD policy in place. This policy determines whether your company will allow or disallow the use of personal devices for professional use. If your BYOD policy allows the use of personal devices, it’s important to outline technology use rules, including:

  • Security protocols
  • Approved uses
  • Approved devices
  • Monitoring protocols

Reach out to your security and IT department for ideas of other aspects to consider regarding appropriate BYOD use. They can help you weigh the pros and cons of BYOD opportunities to help you better plan your policy.

Benefits of creating a BYOD policy

Looking at BYOD pros and cons can help you decide what to allow. Choosing to allow employees to bring their cellphones to work can be a boon to your productivity and your overall workplace satisfaction. There are many benefits of implementing a bring your own device policy in your workplace:

  • Lower technology costs: When you use a BYOD plan, you may no longer have to provide your employees with mobile devices, such as smartphones and laptops. This can significantly reduce your technology expenses. However, you’ll still have some expenses, such as security software.
  • Increased employee satisfaction: Employees often find it easier and more pleasant to use their own devices. Allowing workers to bring their own devices gives each individual the autonomy to choose the device they’re most comfortable with, and they can keep all their contacts, apps and other things in one spot.
  • Higher productivity: Employees know how to use their personal devices efficiently. If you allow their use, you no longer need to organize training sessions and work through learning curves to familiarize new hires with technology.
  • More flexibility for remote work: Employees using their own laptops, tablets or smartphones for work have access to that work both in the office and at home. This enables employers to streamline opportunities for working remotely.
  • Updated devices: Your employees are likely on top of updating their personal devices. This ensures they’re running with the latest programs, which can improve efficiency and cybersecurity. 

Benefits of not allowing BYOD programs

If your business elects not to use a BYOD program, it’s still important to have a BYOD policy in place that lets employees know they can’t use their personal devices for work. The unauthorized use of a personal smartphone or laptop for sensitive professional documents could compromise valuable data. There are some benefits of choosing not to allow personal devices for work:

  • Greater control: When you issue professional devices exclusively for work purposes, you have more control over their security and use.
  • Easier data retrieval: If an employee leaves, you can easily retrieve company data when they return their company-owned device. It can be more difficult to ensure all proprietary and sensitive information is removed from personal devices. 
  • Fewer distractions: You can change the settings on company-owned electronics to block distracting applications and websites.
  • Simplified IT management: Providing all employees with standard devices makes it easier for the IT team to master the use and management of them. 
  • Compatibility: If you issue the devices, you know they’ll work for the apps and programs your employees need to use. You also ensure that all employees have access to a device that works consistently. 

How to establish a BYOD policy

Evaluate whether a bring your own device program is appropriate for your team. If you decide to implement a BYOD policy that allows personal devices, follow these steps to implement it:

1. Outline appropriate uses   

Specify when and how employees can use their devices. List which programs they can use to access and work on company documents. You should also detail any programs or uses that aren’t permitted in the office.

2. Detail acceptable devices

State which BYOD devices are permitted for use. Perhaps you’ll allow personal smartphone use but require employees to work on company computers. You could also give employees the option of using their own device while still providing company-owned technology to those who prefer it.

Outline which operating systems and device models are compatible with the programs and apps that you require employees to work with. Companies often detail the minimum requirements for personal devices used for work purposes. 

3. Describe your reimbursement program

Some companies reimburse their employees for using their own devices. They might contribute a set amount toward employees’ cell phone bills or home internet use, for example. If you offer this employee benefit, explain who qualifies for the reimbursement, how much you offer and how employees will receive it.

4. Detail security requirements

Include all security processes that the employee is responsible for. Examples include frequency of password changes, password strength requirements, two-factor authentication, regular device updates and malware protection software installation and updates. 

5. Describe employee departure processes

Let employees know what will happen when they leave the company. This might include erasing all company apps and data from their personal devices to protect your company’s proprietary information. 

6. Create an agreement

Not only do you need a policy, but you also need employees to verify that they understand that policy. You can do that by creating an agreement that says employees have read and understand the policy and they agree to abide by it. Require each employee to sign the agreement before they can use their personal devices for business purposes. 

7. Set up a cybersecurity training program

Maintaining a BYOB program comes with inherent security risks, so make sure to review your IT security when initiating new device policies. Host training sessions that explain how employees need to manage security on their personal devices. Detail what security programs and measures are in place to protect company data. You’ll also want to ensure employee data is protected, so be sure to only use apps that won’t access or save employees’ personal data.

8. Discuss cybersecurity insurance with your provider

Your insurance provider may require documentation regarding your BYOD policy. This should specify how company data is protected and your plan for recovering company information from a personal device should the individual leave the company.

9. Implement monitoring

Detail your system for monitoring employees’ devices. You should regularly evaluate security compliance, data use and your policy’s effectiveness. Consider doing this alongside employee evaluations.

Tips to optimize your BYOD policy

Make your program as effective as possible with these BYOD policy tips:

  • Have stakeholders review your BYOD policy before implementing it to ensure they approve.
  • Review the policy with your accounting department to make sure it makes sense financially. 
  • Have an attorney review the policy to ensure it’s legally sound. 
  • Check that your network can accommodate the bandwidth needs of personal devices and upgrade as needed.
  • Create a process for remotely wiping company apps to remove business data from personal devices when employees leave.
  • Keep all business and personal tasks separate by using specified apps for professional tasks that don’t overlap with personal uses.
  • Consider whether you want to reimburse your employees if they use devices for business correspondence.

FAQs about BYOD policies

When should you implement a BYOD policy?

It’s best to implement a BYOD policy as early as possible when starting a business. This will help regulate all use of personal devices within the company. Establish a clear policy for permitted BYOD use before you begin allowing employees to conduct business or access company data using their own devices. Incorporate this policy into your employee handbook along with other important policies and procedures.

Who implements a BYOD policy?

IT managers usually develop and maintain BYOD policies with the help of the HR team. They should consult with other managers, stakeholders and professionals throughout the development process. It’s particularly important to explore the functionality of approved apps with department heads.

Are there any actions that should be forbidden in all BYOD policies?

Behavior such as harassment of other employees or bullying, engaging in illegal activity, visiting pornographic websites and participating in gambling activity should not be tolerated in the workplace.

How can you make your bring your own device policy more effective?

Customize the policy to fit your company’s needs. Reviewing and updating the policy regularly can help ensure it continues to be effective. Always inform your employees of changes to the policy. 

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