Mobile technology has undoubtedly changed the way we work in the last decade and making the right choice in how we use it is key for small businesses who are watching costs. The percentage of employees that regularly work from home or out of office has increased dramatically in recent years and fed into the rise in BYOD (bring your own device). But what are the facts about this movement and is it the right choice for your business?
What is BYOD?
BYOD can apply to any mobile device that is provided by the employee to be used for work, this can include smartphones, tablets or laptops.
Advantages of BYOD:
- No capital investment is required from businesses; no high upfront costs or monthly contract is required for the devices.
- Devices brought in by employees may be more advanced than what the company would be able to provide, and as such, more capable and with longer lifespans.
- No training would be required as staff would already be familiar with the device, saving time for IT staff and other workers.
- Enables homeworking and out of hours working as the device doubles up as employees’ personal phone/tablet/laptop.
Disadvantages of BYOD:
- Personal data can be mixed in with company data, which may be confidential. This poses risks as there is no way to know what the employee does with that content outside of work and can be troublesome when someone leaves the business.
- The employee would have to sign a BYOD policy meaning that although the device is used for work purposes they would need to take full responsibility in the case of damage, loss or theft of either the device or its data.
- Ongoing maintenance would put additional strain on IT staff as there would be many different brands and types of devices to deal with.
Security issues of BYOD may be resolved with the use of MDM, mobile device management software. With the employees’ consent this can be added to their devices, whether BYOD or company provided, in order to keep company data safe, avoid misuse and separate work and play. With the upcoming implementation of GDPR this May software such as this may be suitable to your business for compliance purposes, and ensuring sensitive information is kept secure.
If your business needs a more robust solution there are several alternatives to BYOD that still allow your staff to keep mobile. COPE (Company owned, personally enabled) is another popular solution.
What is COPE?
This method involves the business purchasing and owning the selected device, and allowing the employee to use it as their personal device outside of work. Once the employee leaves the business the devices are returned.
Advantages of COPE:
- Gives companies greater flexibility to secure devices by applying restrictions, MDM or anti-virus software before giving to an employee.
- Company devices would be easier to maintain using this method and belong to the business should the employee leave the company to retain investment.
- The employee could then use the device for homeworking and as their personal phone, tablet or laptop outside of work. A great company benefit, that can be very appealing to job seekers and potential employees.
Disadvantages of COPE:
- COPE involves significant capital investment from businesses or can involve ongoing contracts and poses the risk that if a device is lost or stolen the company would have to fork out for a replacement.
- Staff may require additional training if they are unfamiliar with the devices, requiring extra time and support to be given.
- Additional strain can also be put on IT departments as staff may need to download applications or content they use in their personal life but are unable to due to company restrictions.
Similarly, some companies allow employees to select from a range of approved devices to help reduce costs, known as CYOD (choose your own device). CYOD carries all of the benefits of COPE but requires less business expense as companies will be able to select lower cost devices to suit their needs. However, employees may be unsatisfied with the choices given.
With a variety of options to keep your fleet mobile, it pays to weigh up the pros and cons of each method and evaluate how your devices would need to be used. Making the right choice can see improved productivity and save money in the long run.