By the end of 2015, it is predicted that well over 2 billion smartphones and 1 billion tablets will be used on a regular basis throughout the world. And if you look around your office, chances are the majority of your employees have at least one of these devices of their own sitting on their desks or tucked away in their pockets.
Connectivity is alive and well all across America. We want to stay in touch with our spouses and our kids. We want to check in with our personal email accounts to make plans for the weekend. We have lives outside of the office, and we’re not afraid to connect the two together while we’re sitting at our desks.
Yet with that much connectivity, where are the lines drawn? What if an employee loads a corporate email or contact system on to their own device? What if they find as much use for their tablets with work platforms as they do with their favorite e-reader?
Do you have a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy in place?
If not, there are a few things you should consider as you develop a policy for what’s acceptable … and what’s not.
What devices are permitted?
It’s no longer a world of one or two choices with smart technology. Between iOS, Android, phones and tablets, there are many options for a consumer to choose from. They all have different operating systems, different applications … and different risks. If you will allow employees to use their own devices for work related applications, which devices and systems will you support? Be sure to have a clear list of what an employee can use on company time, and how best to get the support they need when questions arise.
Establish a security policy for all devices
If an employee chooses to use a personal device for work related tasks, make sure they understand that all devices used must follow security guidelines. That includes lock screens and passwords to access important data. It also means updating the device with the latest technology, and possibly downloading specific security systems to ensure data safety.
A whole industry has developed around securing and enforcing policies on mobile devices. The technology is commonly referred to as Mobile Device Management (MDM), and there are many pros/cons to each of the MDM platforms, as well as significant price variations.
Define your service policy
As an employee begins loading company applications and programs to their personal devices, it’s a natural progression for problems to occur. When things don’t download properly, or they have trouble accessing company data, where do they go for support? Be clear in your service policy where boundaries are set, what you will cover, and what will remain a personal challenge. The last thing you need is to have your help desk inundated with personal tech problems.
Clearly define who owns what
In the beginning, it’s easy to keep work and personal related apps separate. But as months or even years go by, the lines tend to blur. The two intermix, and before long an employee is using company apps to control everything in their lives. Company calendars list both personal and work related events, and emails consistently begin to cross the line. And that’s only the beginning.
But what happens when an employee quits? What happens to the apps and data at that point? Who is in charge of wiping the data clean? And what happens when an employee isn’t happy when personal items like photos, music and personal apps disappear in the wiping process? Make sure your BYOD policy covers every detail and makes it clear the process that will occur during the final days of employment. It may also be good to remind employees periodically so they can prepare as part of the process.