More and more businesses are adopting “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies in the workplace. Business owners should carefully consider five factors in developing or updating their own BYOD policy.
What is BYOD?
BYOD stands for “Bring Your Own Device” and it refers to the practice of employers allowing employees to bring their personal mobile devices to work for work purposes, which implies using the business network, programs, and documents. This trend continues to grow year after year. For business owners, there are obvious upsides to permitting employees to use their own mobile devices--lower costs, employee efficiency, and even better morale. However, there are also security and legal concerns that should not be overlooked. To address these concerns, employers should develop a comprehensive BYOD policy that fits their business needs.
Factors to Consider in a Company BYOD Policy
So what factors should a business person consider when developing a BYOD policy? Policies will necessarily look different based on the nature of each business. Consider all of the possible areas of concern and make judgments on each based on what fits each business best.
1. Acceptable Use (And Unacceptable Use)
Company BYOD policies may include acceptable and unacceptable use of personal mobile devices used for work. What are acceptable and unacceptable uses of personal devices while at work? What are acceptable sites for an employee to access during work hours? Does the employer wish to ban specific websites? Should camera and video functions be disabled while in the workplace? Are specific apps permitted or restricted during office hours? Can an employee use personal mobile device to access company documents or programs? Does the company wish to have a policy regarding texting, emailing, and talking on the phone while driving? Business owners should consider all of these questions to determine which, if any of them, should be addressed in their business BYOD policy.
2. Devices Supported
A business owner may wish to include specific information about which mobile devices are supported and how an employee should deal with technical issues. For example, will the company permit all makes and models of smartphones for work purposes? Will the employer allow the use of personal laptops and tablets? Will the company provide technical support if there are issues connecting to the network? Can the employee go to the manufacturer or carrier to resolve technical problems with their mobile devices? Does the employee need to have special configuration done on his or her phone before accessing the company network?
A business owner may also decide to address the issue of reimbursement for personal mobile devices. For example, will the employer pay a portion of the voice or data plan for the use of personal smartphones? Will the employer pay the smartphone fee in full or not at all? Will the employer pay additional fees like roaming charges or overage fees?
Security is another important area that business owners may want to address in their BYOD policies. For example, will the company require password protected mobile devices? Does the company wish to create a password strength requirement? Must the employee notify the company of a lost or stolen mobile device within a specific period of time? Does the company reserve the right to remotely wipe a device if it is stolen, lost, or found to have a virus, and must the employee agree to that to use the phone for work purposes?
5. Employee Responsibility
Finally, business owners may wish to include language that explicitly communicates the responsibility an employee assumes when he or she uses their personal mobile device for work purposes. For example, will the employee be responsible for all costs related to using their device? Does the company wish to hold the employee fully liable if company property is damaged or lost as a result of their personal device? Does the company want to reserve the right to terminate the employee if he or she does not follow this policy? Does the company wish to explicitly require employees to act ethically on their mobile device?
Business owners who permit employees to use their personal mobile devices for work should develop a BYOD policy that best fits their company. All of the factors discussed here should be considered when creating or updating a BYOD policy. Once that policy is created, employers should make sure it is in writing and signed by their employees acknowledging they have read, understand, and agree to the terms.