Sam Roberts, Sector Director at mpro5
Most employers now trust their staff to work from home; so why should company devices be any different? With some communication, BYOD can improve morale and productivity, argues Sam Roberts, Sector Director at mpro5.
Companies have been more trusting of their employees since the pandemic forced everyone to work at home. In much the same way that employers realised their staff could be trusted to get on with the job despite being unsupervised, they are also realising that they can trust them to use their phone for work without opening Candy Crush.
Technology is encouraging employee autonomy and the advantages of convenience, efficiency and productivity are being recognised by forward-thinking businesses.
What phone is that?
When meeting managers in the retail space, I often find myself wondering how they ended up with such a high-end, company phone for work. Invariably, it is their personal phone, as they either don’t want to use the “crappy work phone”, or it’s simply too difficult to use. Too often, they end up sitting in a drawer in the office, uncharged and unloved; this is simply a waste of company money.
Usually, the hardware isn’t up to scratch because companies choose something functional and inexpensive, or the devices are so locked-down by company device management policy (written by people that don’t work in a store), that they are unusable.
Wherever possible, colleagues are opting to use their own devices to carry out their digital daily tasks.
Of course, there are certain risks inherent to a BYOD policy. After all, we are facing more cybercrime than before: In 2021, the average number of cyberattacks and data breaches increased by 15.1% from the previous year.
- More potential for malicious apps to take data.
- Higher potential for accidental data loss eg work data being shared in device backups, personal devices being shared with family.
- Higher likelihood of devices being unsupported or out of date.
- Users are less willing to report security incidents because they are worried that their personal data will be intruded upon.
Many of these risks are inevitable. What sets BYOD apart is that the head office can no longer install updates or monitor usage. Here, as with any work from home (WFH) or hybrid policy, trust and communication is key; if your staff know the risks, and know how best to combat them, then you stand a fighting chance. After all, the cybersecurity resilience of devices is often enterprise grade, and you could even incentivise that staff download extra security.
The benefits of BYOD
Using a device you’re not familiar with, especially one that has been bought cheaply, is frustrating for the end user and adds an additional layer of complexity when learning to use a new app. BYOD solves both these issues at a stroke.
The burden of device management is greatly reduced, and your employees will likely appreciate the time-saving of not having to get their device out of lock-up, sign in multiple times in one day, or waste time on hardware issues. Personal devices have built-in security that is comparable to enterprise devices in most terms these days, and asking your employees to install a slim security app that manages this alongside mpro5 is no big ask.
The immediate and most obvious advantage is economic: the head office will not have to buy a large number of new, expensive phones. However, firms will still need to offer some sort of subsidy to colleagues to help towards the costs of their own device and contract. The overall savings are significant, and you won’t have to pay for as many replacements, repairs or upgrades either.
Arguably, the most significant benefit of the BYOD policy is that it empowers your employees. Works management software should be there to back them up, show the hard work they are doing and encourage them. The same goes for the hardware it’s delivered on. Perception matters here: do you want your ground teams to feel forced into using a rubbish device that slows them down, or validated by trusting them to use their own?
The need for dialogue
After all those positives, it’s time for a word of caution: BYOD has to be employee-led. It’s not really fair or reasonable to make it mandatory to install something on a personal device, so if you do decide to adopt BYOD it should be in conjunction with close dialogue with employees and the option to choose a company device if they wish to.
Adoption of a digital solution is always a fluid process, what works for one business might not work for another. But I think this case study of BYOD demonstrates that the key to making any software rollout a success is a dialogue with the end users – because they are the ones that need the software to work for them in order to make it work for your wider business.