We love our devices. We line up for tablets, ogle ultra-thin laptops and feel phantom vibrations in our pockets even when we’ve left our smartphones at home. We’ve become obsessed with these gadgets. And though some criticise our overdependence, it’s hard to deny the benefits they’ve brought us. We’re now able to access information from anywhere and talk face-to-face with people from all over the world.
It’s interesting how these devices have steadily been adopted into the workplace. Maybe interesting isn’t the right word, because workforce implementation of these devices makes perfect sense. Their ability to get real-time information and communicate instantaneously has increased productivity. For example, tablets have allowed sales reps to store multimedia content and create interactive presentations without having to carry around a heavy laptop.
Dealing with the rapid influx of all these devices hasn’t been easy. Consumers like the products they pick. Most are tech savvy and know what they’re looking for. Apple users are loyal to their iOS devices. Microsoft proponents have a Windows-or-bust mentality. We’re conformable with our devices; others feel foreign to us. This bleeds into the workforce. Instead of using some standard five year-old machine, employees would rather use their own laptop for work. Not only does this save them the trouble of lugging around two separate devices, but also increases morale and productivity.
An increasing number of companies are planning to move exclusively to BYOD for smartphones. It’s not unrealistic to assume tablets and laptops aren’t far behind. Yet, there is still a lingering concern with BYOD policies. The benefits are clear, but there are also security concerns. Employees browsing the web at home could compromise sensitive company information. It could be through unsafe third-party software or a phishing link sent to a personal email account. There are also concerns around lost or stolen equipment. Many companies hold the right, in the event a device is lost or stolen, to remotely wipe the contents. It doesn’t matter if it’s a personal device, because if used at work, company data is considered company property. Most employees are in the dark about remote wipe policies. A majority of them support BYOD, but 70 percent say they'd avoid using a personal device if they knew an employer could wipe its contents.
That’s a really high number. So many employees are eager to sign up for BYOD, but this figure suggests there is a breakdown in communication between employers and employees. Obviously, employees aren’t fully aware of the conditions that come with using personal devices at work.
Organisations walk a fine line between remaining flexible and honouring the freedom of their employees, while simultaneously trying to protect company data. Trust is required on both sides if a BYOD program is going to succeed. Employers must trust employees to be careful with company information and follow security guidelines, and employees must trust they won’t be spied on or have their personal information deleted.
Here are a few strategies companies could follow to build BYOD trust:
BYOD Guidelines: Think of this document as a Bill of Rights. BYOD guidelines would clearly outline employee rights and how these rights will be enforced. At the same time, it would discuss the organisation’s rights, and the measures it will use to protect its data.
A secure workspace: Another smart approach would be to install a secure workspace on employee devices. This would act as a separate application for corporate data. That way, the company could have complete control over the workspace, without access to personal data.
Business Phone Lines: In the United States, a California court ruled that companies must reimburse workers for business calls on personal phones. A solution could be adding a software-based phone line. This would further separate business and pleasure, and employees would be happy about not having to give out their personal numbers for business purposes.
Building trust in a BYOD program isn’t really any different than building confidence in other key business initiatives. Success is founded on fair policies that employees understand. If companies can clearly explain what they expect of their employees, and the importance of data security while still providing flexibility, employees will respond positively.