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  • The Pros and Cons of BYOD for Small Business 

    January 9, 2023

    More offices are considering a “bring your own device (BYOD)” policy now that employees are returning to the office. With more people wanting to work remotely at least some of the time, organisations should consider a BYOD program that outlines how mobile devices and workstations will be used for workrelated purposes.

    Whether companies should allow employees to bring their own devices to work depends on the business and the risk they are comfortable taking. BYOD environments can increase security risks and legal liabilities. That’s why it’s essential to assess the pros and cons of BYOD for your small business.

    BYOD for Small Businesses

    BYOD Advantages

    Employees know their own devices. They’re comfortable with the keyboards and touchscreens. They don’t have to switch to unfamiliar computers that require a lighter touch or firmer keystrokes. Even slight changes can decrease productivity and increase frustration.

    Improved Productivity

    When employees use multiple devices, they must synchronise their data. Throughout the day, staff must remember to synchronise their work with a server or the cloud. If they do not, they will not have access to the latest data if they must change devices.

    For example, employees work on a spreadsheet at home but forget to upload it before heading to the office the next day. When they log into their office desktops, they realise they forgot to synchronise the data, and they did not bring the changed files on a USB device. Their options are to work on something else or return home to upload or copy the data.

    Neither solution is productive. The employee and possibly others cannot work on the desired project because the data is unavailable. Alternatively, data uploads could occur automatically, but that requires leaving the device on and opening up the home network to outside access.

    Using familiar devices and applications provides a smooth transition from home to work. There’s no need to remember how the different systems work when allowing employees to use their own devices. Less time is spent training on company-provided devices.

    Decreased Training

    When employees use their devices, they know how they work. Even if new software is installed, such as VPN clients, employees require minimal training since they don’t need to learn the device and the application. In conference rooms, employees can easily plug into audiovisual equipment or switches for interactive training or collaboration.

    The average employee uses 2.5 devices for work-related purposes. Each employer-provided device requires training not only on the software, but also on the device. BYOD employees do not require the same level of training, which lowers expenses.

    Reduced Costs

    recent study found American and British companies that used cloud computing reduced their infrastructure costs by 23% with BYOD policies. IT spent less time procuring and supporting company-owned devices. IT had more time to spend on other tasks, such as protecting a company’s confidential information. 

    Fewer work hours are spent training. Many employees may use new applications with little to no formal training. They are comfortable enough to begin work immediately and learn as they go when using their own devices.

    Improved Technology

    The BYOD trend allows employees to invest in the latest technology at minimal cost to the employer. Even if an organisation subsidies purchases, they will likely pay less in purchase and maintenance costs. Employees are more likely to purchase the latest technology for their personal use, which benefits the employer.

    Better Morale

    People perform better when they are familiar with the tools they are using. Working with electronic devices employees use most of their waking hours provides a level of confidence. That same level of competency may not exist when forced to use unfamiliar equipment.

    Being comfortable with work tools increases productivity and helps with work-life balance. Everything individuals need is available in a single location that they take with them. Although a BYOD program has several advantages, there are a few downsides to allowing employees to bring their own devices.

    BYOD Disadvantages

    The first BYOD disadvantage is security. No one can ignore the impact cybercrime has on a small business. The threats can come through remote access, data retrieval processes, or incompatibility issues. That doesn’t include the possibility of legal issues related to a device policy that can spill over into insurance coverage.

    Security Risks

    Cybersecurity is a risk whether the employee or the employer owns the device. Employee devices may not have the same level of security as an in-office device; however, that doesn’t mean that company devices do not have security issues. Documents or files with sensitive or protected data may be stored on personal or corporate devices without encryption.

    Employees home networks may not be well protected. Network passwords can be shared, making it easier for bad actors to compromise a private network. People may access unsecured public Wi-Fi networks when working remotely unless a BYOD model stipulates how to use them safely.

    Cybersecurity deterrents should be included in any BYOD policy. Whether requiring VPN usage or encrypting software, any policy should provide requirements for securing an in-home network. Companies should consider supply tools to improve security measures. 

    A device policy should also include removal and retrieval of work-related data from personal devices. This requirement is crucial when employees leave the company. Because the device is their personal property, individuals can remove data at their convenience. Any device policy must include procedures for data retrieval from a personal device.

    The same restrictions apply when an employee’s device fails. How will the information on the device be retrieved? Who is responsible for ensuring that the data is properly disposed of if it can’t be recovered? Improper disposal of protected data can result in data breaches. 

    Compatibility Concerns

    What happens when employees decide on an Apple Mac when the company system uses Microsoft products? Will IT be responsible for making it work or will there be guidelines for what will and will not be supported.

    Compatibility concerns can eat up IT resources. Establishing in advance what is IT’s responsibility reduces the frustration of both employees and IT staff. For example, smartphones may have cross-brand limitations.

    Images may not display on an Android device if sent from an iPhone. An Android document may not open on an iPad or tablet. Deciding how to develop and deploy applications across an organisation should include BYOD compatibility issues.

    Legal and Regulatory Issues

    BYOD programs bring with them concerns about legal, privacy, and security liabilities. Legal issues may involve regulatory violations due to an employee’s actions. They can also occur when employees claim unequal policies.

    For example, an employee may question why one device is supported while another is not. Without written policies, the choices may appear arbitrary. How BYOD is implemented can also raise legal issues surrounding insurance coverage should a cyber incident occur.

    The same concerns arise if organisations do not stipulate their expectations regarding the use of company data. It should offer standards for retaining, accessing, sharing, and deleting data. It should also ensure that proper safety measures are in place to limit data access.

    Creating a BYOD Policy

    Although developing a BYOD policy may seem overwhelming, it is an essential step in securing your business and boosting employee morale. TechSeek can help small businesses develop and implement a BYOD policy that ensures a secure operating environment. Our Total Care Membership enables small businesses to maintain a safe operating environment for employees to use their own devices. Contact us to speak with one of our experts about how we can help.

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