Comparing the Advantages with the Pitfalls of BYOD
Research from Gartner has shown that 39% of employees surveyed rely on personally owned mobile devices in the workplace. Use of corporate owned devices was minor in comparison – just 10%. There are of course obvious reasons for the decline of corporate devices – primarily being the high cost burden for businesses.
Bring your own device (BYOD) appears to be a perfect way for organisations to put a halt on high device costs and piggy back off of investments already made by their employees. However, cost is not the only advantage, two others are:
• Familiarity with one’s own device and the particular operating system. Therefore no employee irritation or downtime from having to use alterative technology to usual preferences.
• Convenience and flexibility as the employee does not need to travel with 2 devices – i.e. personal and corporate. This also means that in the event of having restricted space, the employee won’t need to make a choice between the 2 devices.
BYOD has gained increasing popularity over the past few years, but with that has come a realisation of some of the pitfalls and issues that arguably many did not foresee.
1) Employee perception
This is perhaps the biggest issue organisations face – particularly those that have supplied corporate devices in the past. Many employees will quite rightly question what the advantage is to them. Why should they use their device for corporate purposes, and essentially increase the wear of their handset? Also many employees will feel uncomfortable using their personal device for corporate purposes as they view work as separate from their home life. Another common concern is that the organisation will be able to somehow ‘spy’ on the employee.
2) Tax repercussions
A common way to manage employee issues is to look at a subsidy/reimbursement which should cover the use of the phone attributed to business purposes. With the majority of tariffs being ‘all you can consume’ (at least for calls and texts), it becomes very complex to try and accurately split personal and corporate use. However the subsidy/payment of expenses must only be reflective of the corporate portion, otherwise it would be seen as an employee benefit by the HMRC and could attract taxation.
3) The cost of supporting all devices
Many organisations attempt to support a limited selection of devices, and in some cases only one brand. The reason for this is reducing the cost and complexity of supporting a wide range of devices. However by limiting the device types and operating systems supported, it will limit employee willingness to be involved. Bear in mind that most employees will not be perceptive to procuring a new device simply to fit in with the new BYOD scheme.
4) No support culture
One of the major frustrations of employees is with helpdesks who take a stance of ‘we can’t help you’ as it is a personal device. A more pragmatic approach is to first ascertain if the issue is with the hardware or with an application or issue related to the corporate side of the phone. Clearly where possible the organisation should try and extend some support to the hardware too, since it is being used for corporate productivity. This of course will be driven by policy and training of the helpdesk staff.
5) Overly burdensome security
One of the issues employees often have is that the corporation insists on overzealous security precautions, such as extremely long passwords, and device data wipe if lost. There is an important balance to be struck here between risk and the security employed. This must also reflect the fact that the device does remain primarily a personal handset.
There are obvious and significant benefits of implementing BYOD – however there are some common pitfalls that must be considered in advance of roll out.
The issues are primarily around getting the balance right between the fact the mobile phone ultimately is a personal device, but making sure it is fit for purpose from a corporate perspective.
It is useful to discuss the roll out with employees and take on board their thoughts and feedback before shaping policy. This in itself will help to avoid ‘change resistance’ as employees will have felt involved with the decisions being made, and they should also be more closely aligned with employee expectations.
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