The latest buzz word or acronym around the water cooler is BYOD or bring your own device. Use of mobile devices has sky rocketed over the last year with the iPhone, iPad, tablets, Android, etc. Everyone wants the latest and the greatest. But, who wants to carry around two devices, the company’s and your own? Even if you don’t mind carrying the extra device, how many man-hours do employers lose when employees are exploring and surfing their new mobile devices at work?
It may be better, depending on the business, to just allow employees to use their personal devices for work. This issue is similar to the controversy over whether to allow employees to use social media. On that one, cats out of the bag, they are, so put a policy in place to set parameters to benefit and protect the company. But BYOD, whoa, how many privacy, security and legal issues does this generate? A lot!
As an employer, what can you do? Again, put a policy in place and do it now. But, don’t just throw something together piece meal as you go along, do it right. Now, this may sound a little self-serving, but, commonsense dictates having it drafted by a lawyer who is familiar with the technology, privacy, and other issues to ensure your company is protected, and consequently so is the employee.
The policy or policies need to address issues such as can you monitor the personal device; implement encryption; require anti-virus; tracking, secure wipe; use of passwords; etc.? Yes, yes, and yes. Best plan is to have a monitoring policy and a mobile device use policy, or BYOD policy, and give employees the option: “if you wish to use your personal device at work you must agree to the terms of the policy.” The alternative would be to use the company device, aka “the brick”, if they are not willing to accept the terms.
Bottom line: a well thought out and well drafted policy or policies are the key! Watch for the next installment of “Technology and the Workplace.”