To BYOD or not to BYOD, that is the question.
In the age of remote and hybrid work, BYOD (officially known as bring your own device) policies have exploded in popularity. But while the enhanced flexibility BYOD provides might be tempting to businesses looking to grow in our new work environment, are you sure that BYOD is worth the hype?
Let us weigh the scales for you.
From the technology experts at EMPIST, here are the pros and cons that organizational leaders need to know about BYOD policies.
What Does BYOD Mean?
Though just a tad less fun, the name BYOD is a riff on the ever-trendy bring-your-own-beer (BYOB) policies you might find at a neighborhood restaurant. Short for bring your own device, BYOD describes an emergent set of protocols and policies that allow employees to connect their personal laptop, desktop, smartphone, or any other device to your business’s network.
While some organizations file BYOD policies as a form of shadow IT, strictly banning it from use, others have taken the rise of BYOD in stride, with many businesses even allowing employees to use their personal devices as their only professional machines.
Unfortunately, like most major shifts in business technology, there isn’t necessarily a “right” or “wrong” when it comes to whether or not you choose to allow folks to bring their own device. Rather, it’s all about knowing what works best for your overall technology environment, your security infrastructure, and, of course, your goals.
Pros of BYOD
Sorry if this is how you had to find out, but the full-time office job is dead and gone. The Covid-19 pandemic, in conjunction with rapidly evolving technology, has ushered in remote and hybrid work, and they aren’t going anywhere soon. BYOD policies, it turns out, can give your business a leg up when it comes to keeping up with these changes. Allowing users to log in from their own devices decreases onboarding time, opens up where and when you can hire new employees, and ensures that your staff is already comfortable with their current operating system, allowing your business to hit the ground running.
What’s more, as employees travel between work and home and anywhere else, BYOD policies can increase flexibility in hours and location, leading to happier teams overall.
Additionally, purchasing new devices and other hardware can be prohibitively expensive.
Smaller organizations looking to cut back on front-loaded expenses might find success in BYOD policies as they can both reduce overhead costs and speed up timelines for remote workers.
What’s more, it turns out that workers who connect via their personal devices might be more productive. These days, most people are practically attached to their machines at the hip. Having easy, convenient access to their work network at all times encourages employees to get tasks done in the moment rather than waiting to log in to a separate device. In fact, the average BYOD employee is said to work an extra 2 hours a day, according to Zippia.
Finally, in addition to benefits to your business, BYOD policies may also benefit your employees themselves. According to a 2021 study from Jamf, 89% of employees feel that being able to choose their technology is important to them. Allowing your workforce to have a say in what brand or type of device they use may, in turn, make them more comfortable and improve satisfaction as well as performance.
Cons of BYOD
Of course, there is a dark side to BYOD. Giving your staff the freedom to connect to your organization’s network with their personal device does, in some ways, limit oversight, leading to an increased risk of cyberattack. What’s more, employees are more likely to visit risky sites or access unsafe information in a personal setting than in a professional, and since BYOD users are often using one device for both, your business’s safety may be at risk.
Varied Operating Systems
Moreover, bringing personal devices into your network means that your employees’ machines will lack uniformity, presenting potential challenges for your IT department. Small differences in operating systems may not seem like an issue at the start, but as your company grows, the more disparate the endpoints in your network will become, making it increasingly difficult to keep tabs on them all.
BYOD often brings up questions of personal responsibility. If an employee damages a personal device that they need for work, who is liable for footing the bill? If your staff uses their personal cell phone to take business-related calls, should you be paying their dues? Legally the answers here aren’t always clear, and the path forward can quickly be obscured – and messy.
Just as some employees would prefer to use their own devices, others would very much prefer to keep their home life and work life digitally separate. Finding out which works best for you will depend on the job requirements, industry needs, and more.
BYOD Best Practices
The fact of the matter is, despite the risks, BYOD isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, Zippia reports that 75% of employees already use their own cell phones at work, whether their employers know it or not. Our advice is that even if BYOD isn’t your preferred method of employee connection, you’re going to want to develop some kind of policy around it regardless. Doing so will ensure that your team has some oversight and understanding of which endpoints are within your network if – or, more likely, when – a personal device is used. Without it, you’re likely to be caught unawares.
Here are the BYOD best practices you should follow:
- Require passwords on all personal devices
- Require users to enable MFA
- Use a VPN
- Follow zero-trust policies
- Set expectations and guidelines for use from the get
- Have a secure offboarding process in place
- Use encryption
- Develop a clearly defined data storage policy
- Utilize EDR or MDR
- Enforce security awareness training
Adapting to new technology strategies is the name of the game these days. Understanding your organization’s approach to BYOD (and other policies like it) is essential to building a technological ecosystem that will help you reach your goals.
As your technology partner, EMPIST will work with you to establish success-building, growth-minded policies and practices designed to get your business wherever it is that you want to go. And when the next trend in business technology emerges, we’ll ensure that you’re ready for that, too.