Gartner has named Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) as one of the biggest trends to affect businesses, predicting that in 2017 half of employers will require their employees to supply their own devices for work purposes. Many have already jumped on the bandwagon. And why not? BYOD holds many benefits for businesses of all sizes, but notably to less resourced and often cash strapped start ups, small businesses and Not-for-Profits (NFP). Is your business embracing BYOD?
Several years ago, corporate employees shunned their company owned BlackBerry’s in favour of newer, savvier smartphones and started requesting corporate resources on these devices. Although initially resistant due to security concerns, businesses ultimately came to the table and allowed their employees to use their personal devices in the business due to strong employee demand. And thus the BYOD movement began.
BYOD for small business
BYOD may have initiated in the large corporate sector – but this doesn’t mean it hasn’t had implications on smaller businesses. But while much of the conversation on BYOD centres around letting your employees bring their personal devices to work such as their own phones, tablets, computers etc., from a business point of view BYOD can be a whole lot more…
You just have to ask yourself – can your business afford a new smartphone for every employee? Or a new tablet for your sales staff? If you’re a small business, start-up or NFP the cost of purchasing all the necessary equipment for your staff can be huge. BYOD in this sense can now allow you to enjoy the benefits of technologies that exceed your constrained budget.
Encouraging employees to utilise their resources in your organisation can also create a culture of goodwill and innovation. By leaning on your employees, you can create a culture of leaning on each other and going the extra mile in your business. And as a start-up, small business or NFP this is precisely the type of culture you need to get ahead!
What else you can expect from BYOD
- Employee satisfaction: by allowing your employees to use their own devices, the ones they enjoy and know how to use, satisfaction will ultimately increase.
- Productivity: by utilising your employees personal devices you allow them to carry the business around with them. This may mean more time on the go or at home checking emails or replying to customer queries. It also means greater flexibility – and if there’s one thing smaller businesses need to be, it’s flexible.
- Recruitment: individuals are attracted to forward thinking organisations who are adaptive and integrate new trends into their workplace. And if you want to attract forward thinking employees you need to incorporate forward thinking policies.
- Sustainability: BYOD will reduce the duplication of devices a person holds. It also reduces the disposal of outdated devices for organisations. And with sustainability being linked to customer & employee satisfaction, brand and reputation and a competitive differentiator, it should be high on the agenda for many organisations.
Potential issues associated with BYOD
While on the surface BYOD sounds great there are, as always, potential risks to look out for. Did you know nearly 40% of SMBs allow employees to bring their personal devices to work without a formal policy in place? Implementing a policy is important to not strain your relationship with your employees and to clear up any uncertainties around BYOD.
Security is an issue with BYOD. Your employees could leave to go to competitors, and along with them your files. Or what if their device is lost or stolen? If you proceed with BYOD you need to incorporate some fail safes to mitigate these risks. One method is to allow your employees to edit and/or save confidential information using cloud based sharing software so you can easily revoke access if needed.
Other security measures can be utilised through mobile device management software including password protection, software control, version management, remote wiping etc.
Other issues to watch out for include managing workspace and personal space on the device and whether you should pay for a portion of your employees phone and data bills.
In the end, it’s about having a common sense approach, being flexible and allowing freedom of choice as well as incorporating a formal policy so everyone knows the rules. If this is achieved you can easily rely on the goodwill of your employees and leverage the BYOD movement – reducing your costs, and ensuring a culture of collaboration, innovation and flexibility in your business. If done right, BYOD can help your business become lean & green!