Should you let your employees use their own devices in the workplace?

BYOD or Bring Your Own Device is the growing trend where employees bring their own devices i.e. smartphones, tablets and pcs to work and use them instead the business supplying them. Immediately this conjures up both good and bad points. It’s a policy that has been widely adopted by larger companies across the world, but are the benefits the same for smaller business?

Back in February of this year a YouGov survey found that almost half of British employees already use their personal devices for work purposes but over half of these have little or no guidance from their employers.

Already this is ringing alarm bells that business owners don’t know that business data is being accessed from places other than the designated devices that they’ve provided, what repercussions could this have on the business? And, on the other hand, what are the possible benefits? Katherine Evans from 08Direct weighs up whether or not BYOD is a trend that the UK’s SME community should be embracing

It has been proven that when employees use their personal devices that they’ve chosen and they’re comfortable with, it increases many factors within their working lives. By allowing them to feel more comfortable at work, you improve their general morale and as a result, you encourage them to be more productive. Good news for business, right?

Using their own devices will make it more likely that employees will access their emails and company information out of the office, allowing for work flexibility and remote working. It’s becoming more and more common that employees continue working once they’ve left the office, so allowing them to use their own devices; it gives them a vehicle to continue working efficiently and safely.

It has also been noted that by implementing this policy it can dramatically cut the employee cost of a business, although it doesn’t eliminate them completely. There are many way that BYOD can be introduced to small businesses; it just depends on your budget. You can completely subsidise the cost of the device, you can partially subsidise the device or you can simply cover the running costs i.e. the contract payments of a smartphone.

The one major issue that people have with this trend is the possibility of security breaches of a company’s data. This is where the importance for a company policy governing the use of personal devices for work comes in.

The mix of personal and professional data held on devices could leave both the employee and business open to data leakage to third-party sources, something which neither of you want! The Data Protection Act comes in to play here, so it is required that some sort of security measure is put in to action to protect both you and the employee. This unfortunately could mean a large bill coming your way for the trouble of securing your data and even then, you’re requiring that each and every employee keeps in line with your guidelines on their personal device.

This is a difficult one to argue, whether or not you introduce the BYOD to a business completely depends on each individual business deciding what’s best for them. The benefits are clear, your workforce benefit and as result so does your business productivity and when you throw in to the mix that your employees are likely to use their own devices anyway, surely the best offence is the best defence?