Is your company debating whether to allow employees to use their private mobile phones for work? Thousands of companies, large and small, are holding discussions on the pros and cons of permitting personal mobile devices to be used for work-related functions. Why wouldn’t a company welcome the opportunity to save money on purchasing, training, implementing and maintaining their own company-owned mobile devices if employees are willing to use their own? It’s worth looking at both sides of the debate.
An employee’s wish to use a personal mobile phone or pad is most often related to personal preference and convenience. People typically choose their mobile phones based on their own comfort level and the features they want most. They buy from a carrier they trust, and choose a plan that specifically suits their needs. They personalize their settings, download the apps they want, and the mobile phone becomes part of their everyday set of personal accessories. Corporate employers tend to make large equipment purchases from one vendor, and the models they choose are not always as feature-luxurious as we might like. Corporate owned phones are often issued with restrictions, including what kinds of apps the user is allowed to download. That kind of control can hardly be extended to a privately-owned phone.
As we become a more mobile-dependent society, it seems logical to have our mobile lives all in one place, on one device. It doesn’t make much sense to have to have to use two separate phones, especially when many of us work odd hours, and our work is part of daily life.
However, from an employers’ perspective, hundreds of different mobile phone models simultaneously accessing company data as well as personal data could prove to be a corporate nightmare. How does an IT department monitor a user’s personal maintenance of the device, much less control the required update downloads, and enforce security parameters they would normally impose on a company-issued mobile phone? It could be a real challenge to ensure that each personal phone is in compliance with company standards, and if a phone is used for business, there is some question about whether a company should be responsible for its repairs and upkeep.
If the company IT department is diligent about security issues, employees with personal phones will have to comply with some uniform safety measures. But, what risks might arise when an employee leaves the company? An employer may have to include a “wipe” requirement in the BYOD policy, to protect company data, and that, too, could be difficult to enforce.
Hundreds of such issues are bubbling up that demand amicable solutions. When a respected corporation finally pounds out a sound policy that works well for both employer and employee, others will follow suit. In the meantime, the BYOD question requires a great degree of thought and compromise.