The problem with your work computer is that it isn’t truly yours. You’ll never feel as comfortable tweaking it as you would with your home computer. You and your employees know this, which is why everyone feels the same desire to use their own device at work. Is this a good idea? There are pros and cons to the debate, and you’ll have to form your own conclusions in the end. Here are six advantages and disadvantages of allowing employees to bring their own devices to work.
Understanding the Problem
One of the aggravations with your professional life is that you have to navigate between multiple devices. Many people today own some form of desktop or laptop computer. They keep many of their most important files on these systems. In addition, almost two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone. By 2017, tablets will reach a billion in units shipped. Factoring in the computer a person uses at work, the average employee is juggling at least two and as many as four different smart devices and computers.
A worker loses efficiency each time he adds a new piece of hardware into the mix. Remembering what is on which system can be an ordeal. An employee can reduce this aggravation through a convenient solution. She can ask her employer to allow Bring Your Own Device to Work (BYOD) practices. Then, she can purchase a 2-in-1 laptop like a Lenovo Yoga that combines the processing power of a laptop with the portability of a tablet. People who use these systems can blur the line between work and home computing.
Once employees start using their personal computers or smart devices at work, security becomes an issue. It’s a problem that goes both ways, too. You likely use proprietary software that a competitor could use against you if they gained access to your system. Similarly, someone who takes your financial reports out of the building, even unintentionally, causes a security loophole. Opponents in your industry can see not only how liquid your business is but also which customers they could potentially poach.
To protect the company, you’ll need to add tracking software to learn where your computers are going as well as who is accessing sensitive data. Your employees will naturally worry about the fact that you’re tracking them via GPS and keystroke logging. You have only the best interests of the business in mind, but there’s an unmistakable Big Brother element. To enact the layers of control you need to protect your financials, you’ll place employees in an awkward position where they must cede some privacy. Your more freedom-focused workers won’t do this happily.
Companies that employ BYOD practices generally operate more efficient businesses. That’s because workers enjoy the same access to files when they’re at home that they do at work. There’s never a danger that an important file is only available at work or accidentally left at home. They also only use one computer for everything, so your workers have a stronger familiarity with the location of their most important documents. Quicker access means less time wasted searching for content, thereby enhancing efficiency.
Pro: Financial Savings
Any time you hire a new employee, you’re expected to supply him with a computer. In a BYOD system, however, people who like the system they already have don’t need new hardware. You’ll still have to perform a security check to verify that nothing they have on their system is a risk to your servers. But beyond that modest expense, you save a great deal of money on new systems.
Con: Company Policies
Part of the paperwork for new employees involves asking them to sign waivers about company policies. You have rules in place about computer usage that indemnify your business if a worker does something untoward. This step is more difficult when you’re asking people to sign waivers about internet usage restrictions. There are some sites they might want to use at home that your BYOD rules don’t allow. Such negotiations are sensitive. You’ll have to decide whether different rules should exist outside the workplace.
Choosing whether to enact a BYOD system requires a careful consideration of several factors. Carefully debate the issues above before deciding whether such a practice is right for your company.