As mobile devices become more ubiquitous in the workplace, employers can take advantage of new technology with Bring Your Own Device programs, which can enhance employee productivity and connectivity. Still, employers should prepare for potential problems by drafting clear policies and thoughtful procedures to handle the influx of smart phones and tablets that employees now bring to the office.
“Organizations that have embraced BYOD have reported improved productivity and employee retention, enhanced mobility, a more flexible work environment and improved IT value to the business. Other benefits include enhanced collaboration and mobility, expanded mobile access to resources, reduced spending on sourcing and support of devices, lessened responsibility for device lifecycle management, as well as consolidation of infrastructure and tools across many IT disciplines,” says Dan Eckert, director in PwC’s advisory practice focused on mobility.
While BYOD can foster virtual work environments that offer more freedom for workers and potentially trim operating costs, in the end “a BYOD strategy at best is expense neutral to implement when you take all the moving pieces into account,” says Eckert. “BYOD is not just about offsetting the cost of the device and the carrier relationship. What companies may save by diverting device and carrier costs to their employees is reduced by the additional investment they need to make in device management, security, network enhancements, policy administration and acceptable use policies, and the enterprise application store.”
Michael Abcarian, a managing partner with Fisher & Phillips LLP, insists that every employer should have a BYOD policy published in writing.
"There is no one-size-fits-all written program anybody could recommend because although there are basics that need to be covered, every employer needs to customize their policies based on their unique and particular informational circumstances and operations," he explains.
Problems with siloed information can apply to apps as well, warns Dr. Katherine Jones, researcher and senior manager of HCM Technology at Bersin by Deloitte, Deloitte Consulting LLP. Employers should not “make [decisions] in isolation. Your HR strategy around mobile has to fit your performance strategy and your overall business strategy," she says.
Other questions to consider when drafting a BYOD policy, according to Jones, include:
- Do we have a corporate policy in place on mobile phone access to employee data?
- Who “owns” responsibility for mobile phone support? IT?
- Which mobile interfaces are supported? Can users expect to use whatever device they own to transact business decisions on their own network? Your network?
- Is mobile phone distribution automatic upon hire? Do all get new “supported-only” phones?
- Can/should they have corporate app interfaces on their private mobiles?
- How do we ensure that only appropriate data is available on the mobile phone/device?
- What do we do if the phone is lost or stolen? What is our replacement policy?
- What policies on mobile password use and protection need to be in place? Do we require multifactor authentication using a physical token?
- Do you fully support your employee’s mobile program’s cost? Break or fix-it costs or the cost to replace a lost or stolen phone? What about upgrades?
- Can mobile phones replace our corporate land lines for office workers?
- Are there ergonomic or other issues with moving transactions to the mobile device?
- Are we eroding work-life balance of employees?
- What metrics will we use to measure success of results?
To learn more about BYOD policies and how employers are using innovative mobile initiatives to engage employees, look for a story in EBN’s August issue.
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