Bring your own device: benefits and pitfalls of letting staff use their own equipment at work

We’ve teamed up with our partners at XCD to look at how a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) policy could benefit your organisation, and the considerations you need to factor in before launching your own scheme. 

BYOD is a relatively new concept for most organisations. Though most of us are guilty of opening up our personal devices in the evening and sending that last email, BYOD is the practice of organisations enabling employees to use their personal devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, for work purposes full-time.

BYOD policies outline that organisations still own the corporate data which your employee accesses and utilises, but the device remains the property of the individual. 

While a BYOD may seem like a natural move away from hardware onto cloud-based flexible working, BYOD brings a range of benefits and considerations for businesses of all sizes. 

But as with all initiatives in an organisation, it’s good practice to outline some guidance on the dos and don’ts before getting started, to lay out some ground rules, expectations and ensure everyone is on the same page. 

What does BYOD have to do with HR?

BYOD policies sit somewhere between the IT and HR departments of an organisation. While it’s often the IT department’s responsibility to implement the necessary software and infrastructure to ensure BYOD is feasible, it’s Human Resources’ responsibility to handle how employees bringing their own devices impacts the business more widely. 

Human Resources identify the risks and rewards for BYOD in an organisation, including potential cost savings, data risks, and even how BYOD intersects with other HR policies such as wellbeing initiatives. It is important for Human Resources to ensure that employees use their devices responsibly, do not leave organisational data vulnerable to malware and remove any business information from these devices in the event of an employee leaving the organisation. 

What are the benefits of BYOD?

BYOD is cost-effective for organisations

When an organisation implements a BYOD policy, the cost of buying and replacing devices for employees is eliminated. Enabling employees to use their own personal devices for work purposes can also reduce the amount that devices used for work are lost or damaged as employees are more likely to take care of devices which they have personally invested in. 

It is important to remember that employees using their own devices for work purposes are responsible for repairing or replacing that device if it breaks or becomes damaged. This includes any damage caused to the device from viruses and accidental damage. 

It’s more convenient to bring your own device

Though tech is often pitched as a benefit for employees (who doesn’t love a shiny new laptop and smartphone?), it can be more convenient for new employees to use their existing technology rather than having to set up multiple new devices on their first day. BYOD can even increase employee productivity in some cases, especially when your organisation already uses cloud software, as employees can log in easily and get started. 

BYOD can improve employee experience

Everyone has a preference as to what technology they use. Some Mac users, for example, may prefer to have a whole technological ecosystem of Apple products so that they all connect together seamlessly. BYOD policies can positively impact employee experience, especially in older employees, as you can ensure that your employees work using technology that they’re comfortable with. BYOD means that employees don’t have to waste time learning how a new bit of kit works in order to do their jobs. 

Are there any disadvantages to BYOD?

Malware risks on personal devices

The biggest downside to BYOD in an organisation is that it poses significant security risks to company data. You cannot control what websites and networks your employee accesses on their personal device outside of working hours, and this can leave your company files vulnerable to malware. This is particularly significant in mobile devices, where the line between personal and professional use can become blurred. 

If you supply every employee in your workplace with identical company-owned devices that have anti-malware software installed, it makes it simpler to ensure the security of your company data. Fortunately, many cloud-based business softwares use end-to-end encryption to reduce the risk of data breaches and malware, even on an employee’s personal devices. 

You may also be interested in: XCD Cloud HR Solutions and Data Security

GDPR considerations

Everyone in the UK and EU has the right to decide where their personal data is held and they also have the right to revoke this access at any time. If an employee is using a personal device for work purposes, it creates a grey area as to which pieces of company data you may wish to share with external organisations. 

Some employees may have outdated devices

Though 87% of Brits own a smartphone, many employees and candidates may own outdated devices which cannot handle the requirements to complete their job efficiently, especially those from lower income socio-economic backgrounds. This is a key consideration for HR teams as the adoption of BYOD could harm employee productivity if their personal devices do not operate at efficient levels. 

Complicated IT on employee-owned devices

We’ve already touched on this point, but if you have all of the employees in your workforce using identical technology, it makes it simpler to make logistic decisions on software and monitor the updates of each device. BYOD may impact company-wide decisions on HR software, payroll systems, CRMs and ERM software as some tech may function better on specific devices, and it can become a large task to ensure every device works in the same manner.

If you are considering implementing ‘Bring Your Own Device’ in your organisation, ensure that all of your existing software and tools can be used on many different types of devices which may not have the latest updates installed. XCD cloud-based HR and payroll software, for instance, is built on the Salesforce platform which enables all members of your team to access their HR tools securely and remotely from any device. Using self-service on the cloud platform, employees can update their personnel files from anywhere, meaning that BYOD could be an option for organisations using XCD for their HR systems. 

What should you include in a BYOD policy?

General guidelines on user responsibility

As mentioned earlier, there are limitations on the guidelines you can enforce on employees using their personal devices, but you can recommend that employees are conscious to use secure and trustworthy platforms and apps for business with a good standard of data security. No one wants to make their device vulnerable to security risks, so providing guidelines for the safe and secure use of laptops and mobile devices for work purposes is mutually beneficial for employees and organisations. 

These guidelines could include: installing anti-virus software, only using secure networks for business related work, and utilising company-issued software platforms with high levels of security to access organisational data. HR professionals should also make clear distinctions in their device policies between smartphones and laptops, as employee user behaviour varies significantly between these platforms.

Offboarding company data

In the event of an employee leaving your organisation, it’s important to include data offboarding in your BYOD policy. As an organisation, you will need to ensure that any company data, logins and apps are removed from your employee’s personal devices before they leave. Outline procedures and provisions to wipe any company data from the employee’s devices, either in-person or remotely, in the BYOD policy to safeguard your data. 

Introduce BYOD guidelines in the recruitment and onboarding process

To ensure that communication of your BYOD policy is clear, be sure to include a discussion of the guidelines during employee recruitment and onboarding. If you opt for a BYOD policy, it is important to address this in the interview process, as some candidates may not have the required devices to be able to complete their duties effectively. 

Once your new employee starts, they will need to be informed and agree to the BYOD program and BYOD security policy. 

Secure business software makes BYOD possible

As organisations are responsible for their own company data when they opt for BYOD policies, it is the employer’s responsibility to ensure they are equipping their workforce with best-in-class softwares and technologies with high levels of security, especially for HR software which processes sensitive employee and organisational data.  

HR and payroll software solutions including that of one of our partners, XCD, handle these critical processes with maximum data security built in. Using the latest Salesforce platform, XCD benefits from the millions of dollars of annual investment which Salesforce puts into data security. With custom permissions and hierarchical filing, you can ensure that not only are your company files secure from others when using a BYOD model, but that your files are only shared with those who need to know in the organisation.  

Software like XCD complements BYOD as the HR system is intuitively designed for self-service adoption, both from desktop and mobile devices. For example, employees can place their holiday requests using the XCD self-service HR and payroll mobile app on their personal smartphone and know that their personal data is protected as the mobile app is built on the secure Salesforce platform. Click here to learn more about the XCD software solution and how it can support your BYOD policies. 

Expert support to implement a new HR and payroll system

BYOD is a fantastic example of innovative thinking when it comes to HR, but the IT and data considerations can mean a complex and detailed project to fully set-up and run a new system. 

At Phase 3, we’ve helped hundreds of companies from across the UK to find, select and implement the payroll, HR and finance systems that truly work for them, taking into account all the intricacies of their business processes, structure, and specific HR policies – including BYOD. 

Learn more about our professional service offering and how we partner with organisations like yours to successfully implement new systems.

Laura Lee image
Written by : Laura Lee

Laura’s role as Head of Marketing sees her continually looking for new opportunities to tell the world how great Phase 3 is.

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