How to make the best company-wide BYOD Policy
Flexible, remote, and hybrid working models have been in the business environment for quite some time now, and the recent health crisis has made it even more commonplace. This has brought up the question of using personal devices for work purposes. One of the most important strategies this debate has given is embodied in the BYOD policy.
Now, you might think that this is another fancy, buzzword, but it isn’t. BYOD policy stands for “Bring Your Own Device” and it’s equally important for small-sized businesses as well as for the enterprise ones.
Let’s explain this concept in more detail and explore how you can implement it.
What is a BYOD Policy?
As we said, BYOD is an acronym for Bring-Your-Own-Device to work. As working models become more flexible and employees start using their devices frequently, companies need to establish certain regulations. That’s when a BYOD policy comes to the rescue. This set of rules defines the conditions in which employees can or cannot use their devices for work purposes.
Did you know that more than 75% of employees use their smartphones for work purposes? If you think about it, it’s not so odd at all. The majority of us have at least one work-related app installed on our phones. Usually, that’s some chatting application such as Slack or Teams and one used for emails – like Gmail or Outlook. To ensure that these and similar apps are used in the safest possible way, a BYOD policy had to be implemented.
What are the benefits of this policy?
If we tell you that around 83% of companies are using some sort of BYOD policy, then there must be something beneficial about it, right?
The benefits are plenty. From reducing costs to improving productivity, companies are welcoming BYOD with open arms.
Reducing resource costs
Nowadays it is difficult to find a company that doesn’t offer some kind of a hybrid working model. However, means that the company needs to provide extra money for the employees’ additional setup. New laptops are not a minor expense, especially if the company lacks resources. Therefore, allowing employees to use their devices seems like a good solution.
But, to prevent security issues, companies are introducing BYOD strategies that define the rules by which personal devices can be used.
Increasing familiarity and mobility
People are creatures of habit. Thus, everyone prefers to work in their familiar environment, and that goes for devices as well. When employees are familiar with the device they’re working on, they’re more relaxed and get the job done faster. Moreover, BYOD helps with improving employees’ mobility. Gone are the days when people were stuck in their offices. Increased mobility brought up the option of working while traveling, so being able to use a personal device comes as a huge plus.
Improving employees’ productivity levels
When employees can use personal devices, their productivity levels improve. Why is that the case? The answer is simple – flexible working hours mean that they can leave the work and get back to it when they are able to concentrate more. Also, if there are tight deadlines and the employer for some reason can’t finalize the work in the office, he or she can resume it afterward as well.
Increasing software protection
One of the most important aspects regulated by BYOD policy concerns software protection. The policy ensures that endpoint protection software is installed and that all the applications are using their latest versions. This is one of the crucial segments of preventing cyber attacks mostly because hackers can easily make use of outdated apps and software. Therefore, if a personal device is used for work-related purposes, and it’s not regularly updated, it could become an easy target. With BYOD policy in place, such occurrences are reduced to the minimum.
Are there any downsides to the BOYD policy?
Although it seems that BYOD has many benefits, every coin has two sides, right? There are also a few downsides and, as you can probably guess, they are mostly connected to security.
Mixing personal and professional information
Both companies and employees agree that this is the biggest downside of using BYOD. Unless the company IT uses tracking, companies cannot know what websites the employees are visiting. Thus, this can jeopardize data security. On the other hand, employees are also in their right to want to avoid being tracked. That’s why many companies have introduced VPNs. During working hours, employees should connect to the company’s VPN. That will ensure the IT team has more control over what’s happening on personal devices.
Troubles with password management
Avoiding data breaches is usually achieved by password management. If the company does not have a BYOD policy in place, employees might create weak passwords and endanger security. But, when there is a BYOD policy, everyone within the organization uses the same password techniques. The IT team ensures that all the passwords are strong enough and that the whole company uses the same password hygiene.
Another important issue arises from the fact that devices can be lost or stolen. Since the employee has used the device both for personal and professional purposes, there is a higher risk of disclosing confidential information. If the company has a BYOD policy, that means they have set clear instructions for what to do in such cases – how, when, and to whom to report.
So, now that we know the pros and cons, let’s see how the companies can make the best possible BYOD policy.
How to create the best BYOD policy
Every BYOD policy has some points in common, but it’s extremely important to stress that every company has to create its own. Implementing this policy doesn’t mean simply copying something that already exists online. Companies must take into consideration their culture, size, security needs, employer behavior, and much more.
Organizations should carefully consider the following when establishing their own policy:
- Consider the industry and the company size
- Take into consideration the implications of implementing a BYOD policy
- What is the desired level of security control?
- Decide what devices are allowed
Consider the industry and the company size
The industry and company size is one of the most important factors when it comes to implementing a BYOD policy. If you have a small company, then having a general policy covering some basic security issues would probably be more than enough. If, however, you are part of a larger enterprise company, then you might want to consider more procedures and a detail-oriented policy. For instance, it’s important to take into consideration onboarding and departure procedures.
Also, not all industries require the same level of data security. Take healthcare or finance as an example. Since they’re dealing with very sensitive and confidential data, it’s crucial to have them secured if your employees are accessing them on personal devices.
Besides affecting the work of data-sensitive industries, BYOD affects other fields as well. For example, BYOD policy can impact the way B2B marketing agencies communicate and collaborate with their clients. Understanding the client’s BYOD policy can influence the choice of communication tools, platforms, and the overall approach to information security.
Implications of implementing a BYOD policy
It’s also crucial to understand the impact that this policy can have on business. That should be reviewed in advance. Maybe the employees are already using personal devices so this won’t be considered a big change. But, perhaps some of them will find the policy too restrictive and won’t want to participate. In any event, all these options should be considered before putting anything into practice.
What is the desired level of security control?
As we mentioned above, not every industry needs the same level of security control. But, for those who do need it at high levels, it’s essential to avoid any possible data breaches. In such cases, the BYOD policy will have to be more restrictive and all the rules must be clearly explained.
Decide what devices are allowed
This is also an important point. Some companies allow the usage of personal laptops. But simultaneously restrict phones, or vice versa. Also, some are taking the strategy of setting different rules when it comes to the device lifecycle. Many organizations don’t allow the use of personal devices for work-related purposes if the device is older than three years old.
Besides deciding on the devices, companies can also set restrictions in terms of what apps can be used or installed. Moreover, employees are sometimes required to bring the device to the IT team so they can install the apps that will provide the necessary level of security.
Creating an effective Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) policy is paramount in today’s dynamic workplace landscape. A well-considered policy not only ensures seamless integration of personal devices but also addresses security concerns, promoting a productive and secure work environment. Regular updates and employee training will help keep the policy-relevant in the face of evolving technologies and security threats. Ultimately, a successful company-wide BYOD policy requires collaboration between IT, HR, and employees, aligning technology usage with organizational goals. By prioritizing transparency, security, and adaptability, businesses can harness the benefits of BYOD while minimizing potential drawbacks.
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