The modern workplace is very different from how offices used to be just a decade ago. Teams work in different locations, from office to home, depending on the organization. Employees are more flexible, and their performance is measured on the results achieved rather than hours clocked.
At the same time, organizations have been trying to become lean and agile to respond to the competitive marketplace and uncertain challenges like the COVID-19 and geopolitical crises. One of the ways that can help the organization be more agile is by introducing a bring your own device (BYOD) policy.
Simply put, a bring your own device (BYOD) policy lays the ground rules that allow employees to use their personal electronic devices like laptops, mobile phones, etc., for company work.
Here is all you need to know about a Bring Your Own Device Policy and how it can play an integral role in handling distributed teams:
What is a Bring Your Own Device Policy?
BYOD, also called BYOT (Bring your own technology), is a policy where employees are encouraged to bring their devices such as smartphones, laptops, and tablets to the workplace. A BYOD policy is especially efficient for distributed teams, where the IT department is not expected to ship units of company hardware each time a new member joins the team.
Why is Bring Your Own Device Policy important for distributed teams?
A BYOD policy brings numerous benefits to an organization, irrespective of the business size. It is essential for distributed teams where employees are working from different locations.
Here are some reasons which make a BYOD policy important for distributed teams:
– Easy onboarding: When employees work in different locations, allowing them to use their personal devices is one less stress – both for the employer and the employee. It makes way for an easy onboarding process.
– Better management: It is easy for the employer to handle the IT procurement budget as employees in various locations are expected to use their own devices for work.
– Improved productivity: As employees are working in different locations and collaborating in a hybrid or remote ecosystem, BYOD helps employees perform better as they are better acquainted with their personal devices.
Advantages & Disadvantages of Bring Your Own Device Policy for Distributed Teams
Like any other policy, there are several advantages and disadvantages of a bring your device policy in an organization. These can be explained as follows:
Advantages of BYOD Policy for Distributed Teams
The advantages of allowing employees to bring their own devices for work purposes are as follows:
Familiarity with own device
Familiarity with a personal device brings more comfort to the employee. Be it the user interface of the various operating systems or specific apps the employee is used to, it gives them a sense of control of their device. Instead of spending time learning new tools and getting used to legacy systems, they can start with work as soon as they are onboarded.
BYOD helps an organization skip device acquisition costs, software, and ongoing support staff costs. Organizations can provide devices to employees at lower prices to use for both things, i.e., work and personal use. Or even better, by providing them with a budget, they can get devices of their choice with appealing aesthetics and better features. This added advantage takes the responsibility from employers if the device is broken or stolen. This is especially important for distributed teams where employees can use their personal devices for official work and get started quickly.
Latest software update
Monitoring software and hardware updates on each system is a cumbersome process for employers. More so, in a distributed team where the IT support staff is expected to ensure that the latest software is updated across BYOD eases the process when employees are always on top of their game to keep the device updated. This amplifies speed and improves functionality for the organization, especially in a distributed team.
In a remote or distributed team scenario, the on-boarding and off-boarding of an employee become faster with the help of a BYOD strategy. Time and money can be saved on the organization’s logistics and the cost of devices.
Disadvantages of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy for Distributed Teams
Like every coin has a flip side, here are some of the disadvantages of BYOD policy in an organization:
Privacy & Security
Cybersecurity and data privacy is the biggest challenge of BYOD. In the prevailing circumstances, organizations might tiptoe on employees’ personal information boundaries. It is more difficult to ensure corporate privacy and employee privacy in the case of distributed teams using the BYOD policy.
Organizations rolling out BYOD strategies in an organization may find it tough to ensure standardization across devices. When there is no standardized platform or tools in place, it will lead to chaos and decrease productivity. For example, a variety of smartphones being used for official work will make it difficult for the IT department to manage and update.
While BYOD policy advocates bringing your device to the workplace, who pays for its maintenance? Before implementing a BYOD policy, ensure that the organization has a fund to utilize for device damage. At the same time, the BYOD policy must be clear about the upper limit placed in case of a replacement or repair. Without these guidelines in place, the IT procurement budget may go through the roof pretty soon. It is especially important for distributed teams as you cannot monitor the device usage pattern and actual condition.
Unauthorized data movement
Data theft is a real possibility when an organization follows a bring your own device policy. As the devices are used for personal work, there is always a risk of data getting breached or hacked or malware being introduced to the system.
How to create a Bring Your Own Device Policy?
BYOD is here to stay; implementing a detailed and concise policy will help manage security control across distributed teams that use digital assets. The policy planning process must include representatives from various departments like management, human resources, IT operation, and security to obtain a broader perspective and leave no stone unturned to achieve a contingency plan. Attributes of an effective policy are as follows:
- Personal devices should be well-equipped and updated with antivirus software. UEM tools like Microsoft Endpoint Manager is a cloud-based solution that takes care of physical and remote devices in an organization. It helps IT admins to manage employees’ devices distributed over geography; to connect and work simultaneously. In addition to this, data backup must be performed over the company’s authorized network. And updates on any software or digital tools should be taken up after the approval of the IT team.
- In case a device is lost or stolen, it must be reported immediately within a stipulated time frame. The first step is to remotely wipe off confidential documents and files and take care of the sensitive data. And the policy should explicitly mention that employees are not responsible for personal data loss.
- Guidelines must be established to list the software or tools employees must avoid on their personal devices. This can be a guiding template for employees to have the right set of solutions on their devices.
- The internal IT team must inspect data security when employees are on-boarded and off-boarded. This step ensures that the personal device is clear of work-related documents and doesn’t cause future issues.
- Training employees regarding policy is a must to ensure it is well-implemented. And rules must be set in case of policy violation.
How to Implement a Bring Your Own Device Policy Effectively?
For a successful BYOD security program, the right BYOD solution is critical to fighting against attacks on the network and confidential data information. You can use the following practices to implement a BYOD policy effectively in an organization:
Strong password policy
A strong password is a stepping stone for the basic security of a BYOD program. Critical software and apps must be password protected, and employees shouldn’t have unauthorized access to the company’s confidential files. There should be detailed guidelines on what combinations to make passwords strong so that employees won’t have a chance to skip them. For instance, you can make 2FA (two-factor authentication) mandatory for official apps on a personal device. This is especially important for a distributed team.
A cybersecurity training program can help employees identify and report phishing and suspicious activities. They will be more aware and well-versed in maintaining security hygiene, and the number of security-related reports will decrease. A distributed team must be provided with enough training to handle their personal devices well for official purposes.
Lost or stolen devices
Lost or stolen devices are an additional problem to existing security concerns. A tracking system and mobile data management system can be implemented to help track stolen devices and wipe out essential data from compromised devices.
With the rise of the ubiquitous network, IoT devices, and smartphones, data and privacy can be easily compromised. So, mobile security tools like mobile device management (MDM), enterprise mobility management (EMM), and unified endpoint management (UEM) must be included in BYOD solutions which will help in monitoring and securing devices used in the workplace.
BYOD Policy Template
Company ABC: BYOD Policy
Company ABC allows its employees to buy and use personal devices for company work. The Company ABC reserves the right to revoke this privilege if it is noticed that the employees are not abiding by the rules and regulations of the policy as outlined below.
The bring your own device BYOD policy has been designed in Company ABC to protect the data being generated by the organization along with the technology infrastructure.
Employees working in Company ABC need to agree to the terms and conditions outlined in this Policy to connect their personal devices to the company network.
– The acceptable business use for the employee is the work that directly or indirectly contributed to supporting the business of Company ABC.
– Company ABC allows reasonable personal communication and activities on personal devices during official working hours.
– Company ABC does not allow employees to access certain websites and applications when connected to the company network. Apps not downloaded through the official app store or Play Store are not permitted on the company network
Devices and support
– Smartphones including iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows operating systems are permitted to be used on the company network.
– Tablets with iOS and Android operating systems are allowed.
– Windows and macOS are permitted operating systems on laptops and desktops.
– Company ABC will/will not reimburse ….% cost of personal devices bought by employees that are being used for company use
– Company ABC has the right to make suitable arrangements for the security of its applications and data on employees’ personal devices.
– Employees must follow 2FA password protection in the device, including the company applications.
– The personal device must be secured with a password if idle for more than 10 minutes
– Company ABC reserves the right to wipe clean the device in case:
- It is lost
- Employee leaves the organization, and
- A data breach is detected.
– Smartphones and personal devices not being used for official work are not allowed to be connected to the company network.
– Employees must change the passwords on all devices after 90 days
– Company ABC will make enough arrangements to secure data. It is the responsibility of the employee to back up important components like emails, contacts, etc.
– Company ABC reserves the right to disconnect services and discontinue engagement without notice.
– The employee is responsible for reporting devices lost within 24 hours of the incident.
– The employee is expected to use the personal device ethically. In case unethical use is found, it can result in disciplinary action, including employee termination.
– Employee confirms that using the personal device is voluntary and is for achieving better work efficiency.
Building a bring your own device BYOD policy for the organization can be tricky for large-scale organizations with a set culture of company-owned devices. However, the bring your own device culture can be a big help for small businesses and start-ups. As these businesses are mostly stretched for resources, it is better to have a BYOD policy in place.
This will not only help in making quick progress but will also keep your procurement budget low. Once the company grows, you can decide to move to company-owned infrastructure as per the needs of the business.