Harnessing the benefits of BYOD for the return to the office

A Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy could help ease the transition back into the traditional office space as remote workers return to the workplace.

Gary Luther

28/07/2020

After months of fear and uncertainty, there seems to be a light emerging at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Companies are edging their way back into the office landscape following a drop in new cases. Teams are beginning to look forward to a future with fewer restrictions on how and where we work.

However, just because UK offices are beginning to reopen, doesn’t mean that everyone should just expect to go back to “business as usual”. Remote working is still going to be a crucial factor of working life. And as businesses try to balance a hybrid group of in-office and distance employees, we’re seeing many new trends emerge.

One major consideration in this new space is the potential for BYOD.

Even before COVID struck, companies were looking to Bring Your Own Device policies to engage team members, reduce costs, and improve satisfaction. Now that employees have gotten accustomed to a different style of the work-from-home environment, BYOD could help ease the transition back into the traditional office space.

The case for BYOD in the new workplace

Currently, Statista notes that up to 66% of people are using personal devices in the workplace.

Although the majority of teams rely on their personal devices in the office, very few companies actually sanction this practice. That means you may have people in your team using their own device without any guidelines for security and privacy.

Now that employees are likely to be more accustomed to using their own devices at home, it’s going to be even harder for employers and business leaders to prohibit this practice. The good news is that it might be a good idea to allow more BYOD in your office.

Research consistently shows that allowing employees to use their own devices pays off in the form of better productivity, satisfaction, and efficiency. In fact, according to one study, using your own smartphone at work can make you up to 34% more productive.

As employees start to get used to the idea of coming back to the office, the freedom to continue using the same devices that have kept them efficient during lockdown could lead to fewer teething pains.

This is particularly true among younger employees, who feel more connected to their personal tech tools. A study by Dell found that 61% of millennials say that the tools they use in their personal lives are often more productive (and less stressful) then the devices at work.

The benefits of BYOD for the new workplace

If there’s one thing that all businesses can agree on, it’s that they all want their team members to be as productive and confident in the workplace as possible. Your staff members have been through a massive change in the last few months. They’ve learned how to embrace virtual meetings, use their smartphones for work projects, and more.

Having to switch back to a more restrictive mode of work might cause even further disruption for your people. That’s the last thing you want when you’re dealing with an uncertain economy already.

On the other hand, embracing a BYOD strategy means that you can continue to provide a seamless experience for your team members inside and outside of the office.

Benefits of this approach include:

  • Seamless transition to remote working: We’re still in the early stages of returning to the office. BYOD strategies will mean that your employees can continue to use the same devices when they’re working in the office one day, and at home the next. This leads to fewer issues with lost information or knowledge gaps.
  • Reduced costs: Companies that successfully implement BYOD save around £209 per year, per employee. That adds up if your business has been through a tough time thanks to COVID-19. It also means that you don’t have to buy versions of your in-office hardware for remote workers who can’t come back to the office yet.
  • Better work/life balance: 78% of employees say that using just one mobile device for work and home helps them to balance their work and personal lives. If your employees have adjusted to their new work-anywhere lifestyle, sticking with a BYOD policy could help the transition back to the office feel less daunting.

Overcoming the risks of BYOD

Having the freedom to use the devices that you already feel comfortable with at work has a lot of advantages. You can keep the information you need handy at all times. Plus, there’s no risk of losing data and information when switching back and forth between devices.

Of course, BYOD can have its downsides too. Allowing employees to use their own devices both at work and at home, means that you open yourself up to a few additional security risks. If you don’t have complete control over what your employees do with their devices, it’s challenging to protect them from any potential breaches.

There’s a limit to how much you can control a device that belongs to someone else. For instance, you can tell your employees not to download apps and files on their phones that might be dangerous. But your employees won’t always listen to this request when they’re using their phone as a personal source of information, or opening attachments from friends.

Successfully implementing a BYOD strategy for the era after COVID means thinking carefully about how you can prepare your team and your business for anything.

Establishing your BYOD policy

The easiest way to protect your people, and your business from security issues, is to implement a Mobile Device Management program. MDM tools make it easier for businesses to set up and enact restrictions on things like user access, geographic boundaries, and even application downloads.

With the right MDM software, you can control an employees device from a distance. This means that it’s easy to roll out secure software patches to team members remotely. It’s also easier to keep track of the tools that your team members are using, and make sure that they’re not putting any business data at risk. If a device is lost, you can use MDM to wipe sensitive information remotely too.

Aside from accessing the right technology, a good BYOD policy means outlining some crucial guidelines on how team members should behave with their devices.

  • Acceptable uses: How should your employees be using their devices, both for work and personal preferences? Do you need to have certain websites blocked? Is it important to avoid giving too much access to certain applications?
  • Security: Take steps to avoid any necessary security risks. Ask your IT department and set guidelines for things like user session times, password protections, and downloading pictures or attachments. Also think about limiting access to company data.
  • Reimbursement: One of the questions your employees will often ask is whether you can afford to replace a device if it’s broken and whether you’ll pay for data plans. Make sure your team members know what your policies around expenses are.
  • Liabilities and risks: Make it clear that your employees have to use their devices as ethically as possible, and that disciplinary actions are a possibility for people who don’t comply with the right precautions.
  • Education: How are you planning on providing the right education to your employees to keep them in line with the best security and privacy standards? Are you going to have regular meetings or one-on-one sessions? Do you need to upgrade your policy every time a device updates?

Benefiting from BYOD without the risks

Cyber security threats were a common issue before COVID-19. However, cybercriminals have been taking advantage of the panicked environment to launch up to 667% more phishing attacks. As you return to the office and take advantage of the benefits that BYOD has to offer, it’s important to be especially careful.

Giving your employees access to VPN technology when they’re logging into tools from a distance will protect sensitive data. Using MDM technology means that you can protect and update an employee’s technology from a range. All the while, your security and privacy policies will give your staff the guidance they need to make the right decisions.

While none of us are sure where tomorrow might lead, it seems clear that COVID-19 has changed the way that we work forever. With so much flexible and hybrid working on the horizon, BYOD is set to reach a value of £288 billion by 2022.

Reach out to Nice Network today if you want to learn how to take advantage of BYOD, without the risks.