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“Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policies allow employees to use their personal devices — such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets — in the workplace or for work purposes. Instead of using company-issued technology, BYOD policies let employees access company data, utilize company applications and programs, and connect to company networks and servers, either in the office or remotely. Organizations in a variety of niches and industries may benefit from adopting a BYOD policy — including your own.

As a small business owner, you may be wondering why BYOD policies are so popular and whether or not you should implement one in your organization. After all, there are many benefits that come from embracing a BYOD policy, such as financial savings and increased employee productivity. However, there are also risks associated with it, including making your sensitive organizational information more vulnerable, which can have disastrous consequences for your business if you aren’t properly prepared.

Before making a commitment, you need to consider both the advantages and the drawbacks of a BYOD policy to determine whether or not it’s the right choice for your employees and your company as a whole. Here’s what you need to know about BYOD policies in the workplace, so you can make the best possible decision for the success of your business:

The rise of BYOD policies

Technology has become more pervasive in daily life, both in and outside of the workplace. The majority of Americans have welcomed new technologies into their lives, with 77% of adults already owning a smartphone. With a growing number of people embracing these technologies, it’s only natural that they explore and develop new applications for it, including in the workplace. In other words, smartphones and other connected devices are among the most essential tools for the modern workplace, for businesses themselves and their associated managed service providers (MSP).

Although BYOD policies are a relatively recent trend in the business world, more companies from a variety of industries and niches, are choosing to adopt them. They’re adaptable, flexible, easy for when employees leave the company, and useful for employees in a variety of roles. BYOD policies can even help support remote workers or simplify work for employees who travel frequently.

Almost 60% of workplaces already allow their employees to use their personal devices for work purposes, and another 22% have plans to implement a BYOD policy within the next year. This rise currently shows no signs of stopping or slowing down, as the BYOD market is expected to grow in value to a staggering $366.95 billion by 2022. For this reason, BYOD policies are one of the biggest, most significant trends shaping the modern workplace and the future of work itself.

BYOD policy pros and cons

Although they are increasing in popularity and a growing number of organizations are choosing to implement BYOD policies, they aren’t necessarily a solution that will work for every company. There are a number of positive and negative consequences that come from BYOD policies; as a business owner, you must understand all of these potential effects, particularly within the context of your own organization.

Benefits of BYOD policies

  • Company savings: This is, perhaps, the biggest or most attractive benefit of BYOD policies. If they bring their own devices into the workplace, you won’t have to buy a smartphone or laptop for every single one of your employees. Employees are more likely to take better care of their own devices, which means their current equipment will last longer, and in addition, it isn’t necessarily your responsibility as their employer to replace any devices that break or are lost or stolen.
  • Increased productivity: Increased employee productivity is another appealing effect of BYOD policies. One survey found that productivity increases by 34% when employees use their own smartphones, saving almost an hour of time every single day. Other purported benefits from the survey include improved quality of work, greater flexibility, and boosted quality of collaboration with other employees.
  • More frequent updates: Keeping devices up-to-date with the latest software can be difficult and costly. However, when employees use their own devices for work, they’re more likely to ensure the software is updated to keep their personal information safe; further, they will pay for their own new devices when they need or want a hardware upgrade.
  • No learning curve: Employees already know how to use their own devices, so there is no need for them to learn an entirely new smartphone or laptop that differs greatly from their own. This can increase employee efficiency, as there is no time lost on training or teaching. Employees can jump into their work, fully able to produce at the necessary level almost immediately.

Drawbacks of BYOD policies

  • Complex IT work: Small business cybersecurity is important, and BYOD policies pose security risks. It takes a complex IT plan to ensure that all employees’ devices and the company information stored on them are safe and fully supported. Not only is providing this type of IT support difficult, but it can also be expensive, especially when you have to take different peoples’ preferences and their devices’ capabilities into account.
  • Higher security risk: As mentioned above, BYOD policies are less secure and present a greater security risk to sensitive information and company or customer/client data. Keeping that data private and protected is already difficult enough, but it becomes even more so when you can’t dictate company policies about device usage or implement a common security plan across all employee devices.
  • Loss of privacy: With BYOD policies, the lines between work and employees’ personal lives can get blurry, and if you aren’t careful, your private organizational information could end up in unauthorized hands. This is especially true when employees leave for another job. If you don’t lay out specific policies protecting private company information housed on personal devices, it can result in other individuals—even your direct competitors—with access to your sensitive data and leave you open to data breaches.

Should you adopt a BYOD policy?

It’s up to you to decide whether or not you should implement a BYOD policy at your company. While it may work well for some organizations, it may not be the right choice for yours. Is taking on those risks worth the reward, both for you and your employees?

Further, don’t just think about the advantages and drawbacks above; be sure to consider how they would affect your business in particular, and what you can do to minimize the risks and maximize the rewards. There are a lot of technological options that can be beneficial for reducing security threats. For instance, you can explore remote access software solutions that work for all devices to protect private data, reduce those security risks, and provide some amount of security standardization across your employees’ devices.

This can allow organizations to continue to take advantage of managed services providers (MSP) handling IT and security even with a relatively liberal BYOD policy, ensuring company hardware and personal devices are up to date and accessible.

There are almost countless ways you can use technology as a solution, but you can also try to craft a unique BYOD policy, designed specifically for your business. If you’re interested in a BYOD policy, you have to think about how you can make it work for you and your employees, as well as your organization and its future growth. Ultimately, BYOD policies should have some organizational benefit and help you take your small business to new levels of success.

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