BYOD: Employees Need to Know

Bank employee with laptop against a white background

The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend is one of those few innovations that benefit employees and employers. Employees like to use the same technology in the workplace that they’ve already mastered at home. Employers like the fact that they don’t have to put out for more equipment and training. Both can appreciate BYOD’s environmentally friendly outcomes, including less use of paper and printer ink, greater awareness about recycling older technologies, and an overall reduction in carbon footprints since fewer devices means less competition for energy resources.

BYOD: A Logical Response to Employee Preferences

BYOD was triggered by employees who were already using their personal devices for work purposes. By 2011, 53 percent were already using personal devices at work, according to Forrester Research, with senior executives in the forefront of the trend. Personal devices included mobile phones, smartphones, netbooks, tablets, and even desktop PCs. Employees, including executives, often paid the full cost for the devices.

Don’t Forget It’s Still Work

Although much has been written about BYOD and employee privacy, some employees behave with little thought about their own online security and need to establish stronger work-life boundaries. Writing for the Kaizen Factory, Thomas Liesener, a Lean Six Sigma Master Blackbelt, marveled that 65 percent of employees who used their own devices at work didn’t verify the security settings of online shopping sites—an activity they probably shouldn’t engage in at work anyway.

Even if their online activities were restricted, 35 percent of employees said they would still continue to bring their devices to work, and 33 percent would, even if they knew their online activities were being tracked. An astonishing 31 percent would continue to use their devices at work even with the possibility of their data being wiped out, states Liesener.

Read Your Employer’s BYOD Policy

If your workplace approves of your using your own devices at work, ask to see its official policy. Employee rights are uneven across states, and you need to understand your privacy rights at work. Under federal law, employers cannot access their employees’ personal electronic devices. BYOD can complicate this. In addition, warns Nancy Barnes, a certified specialist in employment and labor law, “a carefully crafted BYOD policy … may eliminate any expectation of privacy even on employee-owned smartphones used for business purposes.” Barnes adds that “employers may decide instead to acknowledge a zone of privacy for employee’s personal usage.”

Separate the Personal From the Professional

BlackBerry offers a solution employees working in theBring Your Own Device World through its BES10 software with separate Personal and Work Spaces. The Work Space is fully encrypted, allowing you to keep corporate data and applications secure, and applying only the Work Space for remote wipe. Prospective users can visit the site for a free 60-day BES10 trial.

If You BYOD, Itemize

Did you know you can deduct the business-related portion of your device expenses (cost, data/phone plan, software) from your taxes? True, you do have to itemize them, but this really isn’t a big deal. Just be be sure you can separate personal use from professional use.

Credit for Header Image: Tech Talk by GFI Software