The use of personal notebooks, smartphones, and laptops is currently a big trend. Also called Bring Your Own Device, this policy greatly benefits employees. Initially, when corporate technology relied on BlackBerry while employees preferred iPhones, BYOD work policies allowed employees to work using their favorite devices. However, despite being the current trend, should employers force their employees to purchase these devices on their own?
Why Employers Encourage BYOD Work Models
Employers increasingly adopt this work policy for the following reasons;
Low Operating Costs
Businesses save a lot of money by implementing a BYOD program. By encouraging employees to bring their smartphones and laptops, they won’t have to incur the cost of purchasing or paying for routine maintenance. Monthly data fees and services are also off the budget. Even if the business is compelled to compensate employees for the data and phone plans used, costs are still lower than if the company had bought the devices.
Better User Enhancement
Millennials currently make a large percentage of the current workforce, and they like their devices. Such a workforce is tech-savvy and will always be searching for modern ways of working efficiently, including the freedom to work from their devices. That said, companies can greatly benefit from allowing their employees to use devices they are already familiar with.
Besides employees getting straight to work, businesses also cut on the cost of conducting training since employees already know their device features and functions. The same applies to workers in the field. Instead of employees lugging with their laptops, they can leverage personal handheld devices, which increases productivity.
Access to New Technology
Workers understand their laptops and smartphones inside out. Tech-savvy employees also constantly upgrade their devices to the latest models. They access the latest technology, which is generally faster and can handle various work-related tasks effectively. Businesses generally benefit from improved employee productivity.
For instance, access to 4G LTE and Siri make it easy for employers to track their field employees’ vehicles, shipments, and even during accidents while minimizing the expenditure. New devices can also make it easy to manage billing, invoices, sales receipts alongside storing photos, videos, and other business-related information.
Easy Access to Information
Enabling your employees to access information with ease is a sure way of ensuring that your business succeeds. The use of advanced devices makes it easy to handle and improve customer relations. No client enjoys being placed on hold as your customer support tries to find information needed to resolve their complaint or place an order.
Your customer support teams can handle client complaints and other matters with ease. Note that happy customers lead to increased revenue. A study by Forbes found that 73% of customers agree that good customer service is an important contributor to customer loyalty. Similarly, businesses with good customer relations report five times more revenue than their competitors.
Alignment with their Behavior
Whether you like it or not, employees use their smartphones during breaks or at work. Since this happens, employers need to direct these opportunities to increase employee output and productivity. A study done by Pew Research Center established that 77% of staff use their smartphones while at work, even with tough employer policies.
Additionally, 20% of employees use social platforms to search for information that helps them solve work-related challenges. Therefore, having a BYOD program can help your business align with employee behavior.
Without a proper understanding of company policy, employees face ambiguity and have to sneak around to use personal devices at work. Such behaviors cause trust issues between managers and employees. It also creates a negative working environment that affects employees and clients. However, a straightforward BYOD policy not only builds trust and transparency but also improves understanding between staff and their supervisors on the use of mobile phones at work.
Onboard Top Talents
Companies also take advantage of the BYOD policies to recruit top talents to their workforce. Unemployment is currently low, making it difficult for employers to hire and retain top talents. Therefore, companies should adopt a workplace culture that attracts top talents. Note that millennials and Gen Z make up the majority of the current workforce. Unlike the traditional workforce, 93% of this population states that technology is a key determining factor in choosing their future workplace.
Risk Associated with Bringing Your Own Device
While companies benefit greatly from BYOD policies, they should be aware of the potential risks associated with this model. Common risks include;
1. Security Concerns
Security is probably the biggest concern for companies looking to adopt BYOD programs. IT professionals generally find it difficult to monitor and address viruses, hacking attempts, and several other cybersecurity issues that come with the use of personal devices. That said, companies can consider the following tips to address BYOD security risks;
- Register these devices for monitoring purposes
- Encourage employees to use strong passwords, backup software, and antivirus.
- Caution them from using public WIFI networks
- Discourage employees from downloading company information to home computers
- Format these devices if an employee quits or is terminated
2. Legal Costs
While there are no straight regulations that guide the adoption of this model, ensure that you consult employment lawyers before implementing a strict BYOD program. Legal areas to consider include;
- International data transferring laws
- Security breach notification laws that apply to most states
- Legal obligations about retaining and deleting personal data
Besides these two main drawbacks, BYOD working models are also affected by non-uniform end-user support and software difficulties. Therefore, it is best to consult your IT department before making a decision. In some cases, a cross-platform working model may be the best option.
Recent Legal Issues Surrounding BYOD Policies
While BYOD adoption policies have favored both employers and employees, such advancing technology has outstripped corporate controls over employee devices. As a result, companies should rethink their BYOD policies as they became aware of the risks associated, including possible loss of business data and employees’ lack of privacy.
In the current world of BYOD, most employees propagated lawsuits focus on reimbursement of the cost of acquiring and using their personal devices. For instance, a recent case in California’s court of appeal’s judgment compelled the employer to reimburse employees who use their smartphones for work-related activities. The court found that the employer would be passing some business costs to the employee unfairly.
Some employers go to the extent of requiring employees to source for their own laptops. Similarly, California laws require employers to reimburse employees for the cost incurred as direct consequences of business-related work. Therefore, if your employer assumes that all employees should have their notepads or laptops for work, inform your HR manager if you don’t have one and that you don’t intend to buy one for work.
Ask them if you can continue using the corporate computer. The chances are that the employer will allow you to continue using corporate tools than expose the company to unnecessary legal problems.
Evidently, no astute legal provisions guide the use of BYOD programs. However, the adoption of this working model affects other statutes of federal and state law, which employers should be cautious about. As to if your boss can force you to buy a work laptop, this depends on several factors. For instance, if your employment contract stated that you should come with your work equipment, you will have to do so. However, if such provisions aren’t captured in the contract, your employer should reimburse the costs incurred.