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The Pros & Cons Of BYOD In The Workplace

Bring your own device

Do the Advantages Outweigh the Risks for Your Business?

With 77% of Americans now owning a smartphone, one thing is certain: there are plenty of personal devices in the workplace. As a result, the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) movement is gaining traction as many businesses embrace the trend.

In fact, a Microsoft study back in 2012 found that 67% of employees used personal devices for work. BYOD has now grown to the point where 50% of companies will likely require employees to supply their own devices by the end of this year.

So the question is, where does your business fall in the discussion about BYOD? Should you allow employees to bring their own devices to work? And if you do, what are the advantages and disadvantages?

Here are some of the pros and cons of BYOD, along with a list of things to plan for as you consider adopting a BYOD strategy for your organization.

Advantages of BYOD

Increased Productivity
Numerous surveys point to increased productivity as the biggest reason many companies are adopting BYOD policies. These permit employees to access company data and networks from their own laptops, smartphones and tablets.

Employees report that they are more productive on their own devices, often because they’re more familiar with the technology and layout. A Cisco study reported that U.S. workers saved an average of 81 minutes per week by using their own devices.

This infographic from Syntonic also shows how BYOD increases productivity.

Employee productivity graphic

In short, employees who are allowed to choose their own devices find it easier and more enjoyable to use them, resulting in greater productivity overall.

More Flexibility
The flexibility that personal smartphones, tablets, and laptops provide makes them an attractive option for both employees and their employers. Depending on the job role, much of an employee’s work can be accomplished anywhere in the world. This makes situations like out-of-town conferences or time off to tend to a sick child more productive than ever before.

Many employees, especially younger generations, value the ability to work outside the confines of the office. According to a Samsung study, 78% report that using a single device helps them achieve better work/life balance. This increases job satisfaction and often results in better quality work.

Decreased Hardware Investment
Many companies see the boon of BYOD as a potential cost-savings opportunity.

An article from CloudTweaks stated that BYOD saves a company a lot more money than simply the cost of the initial equipment purchase. Savings continue throughout the life cycle of the device, because the company isn’t required to spend the time or money to provide repairs and support.

How much can your business save?

That depends, on your current IT budget and how many employees will use their own devices vs. company-provided hardware. Some studies suggest $350 per year per employee, others over $3,000 per year per employee. In the long run, though, employee-owned devices could prove to be a significant cost-saving strategy for many businesses.

So now that we’ve talked about the advantages – greater employee productivity, better job satisfaction and decreased hardware costs – it’s time to assess the risks.

What Are the Potential Pitfalls of Adopting BYOD?

Security, Security, Security

computer security

The biggest concern most businesses have over adopting a BYOD strategy centers around security. According to a survey by Security Intelligence, the largest security issue is the risk of losing enterprise data. These risks can take many forms, including:

  • Lost, stolen or unauthorized access to devices
  • Attacks and threats, such as malware, scams and fake apps
  • Endpoint Security and compliance for personal devices that are accessing the company’s network

The problem of security becomes even more relevant when you consider the statistics published in this infographic by The Magic Blog:

risky-behavior-stats

It’s clear from these statistics that companies need to consider the security of their networks when adopting policies for BYOD. Here are some things to consider.

How Employees Will Use Their Devices At Work
Will employees use personal devices to access company email, sensitive documents, or corporate resources? Will you establish an overall security strategy, or manage access to corporate resources on a case-by-case basis?

Device Security Protocols
At a minimum, all personal devices should require a password for access, have anti-spyware and anti-virus software installed, and use an approved operating system in order to access corporate resources.

Server-side Security Measures
Since absolute control over employee devices is not guaranteed, companies will also want to look into server-side security methods that can restrict access to sensitive corporate data, monitor employee downloads from the corporate network, and deny access to unapproved apps and potential threats.

So Do the Advantages of BYOD Outweigh the Risks for Your Business?

BYOD isn’t going anywhere. Of course, you need to decide what’s best for your business, but you can’t ignore the growing reality of personal devices in the workplace. If you are considering implementing a BYOD policy, be sure to discuss your plans with your IT consultant to get more details on all the pros and cons, along with sound strategies and advice to implement sound and profitable BYOD policies.

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