Employees now expect to work very differently to a generation ago. Their personal devices (mobile phones, tablets and laptops) often have more power and are easier to use than their work equivalent. It’s only natural, then, that they want to use these same devices at work. Which is great for your business, helping increase productivity.
However, employees expect the same access to systems and applications that they use on their business-provided devices. If this access isn't managed correctly, this can cause a security headache for an IT department. With the right networking infrastructure and policies, your business can turn this challenge into an opportunity.
Lots of businesses are thinking about how they handle the BYOD revolution; do they embrace it, fight against it, or something in between? Here are ten things to consider when creating your BYOD policy.
Recognising the BYOD revolution
Every business is unique and how you handle BYOD will be down to the needs and working style of your business. However, recent research suggests that 77% of employees are currently using their own devices for work related activities already. Only a portion of those businesses have a formal BYOD policy in place, so the rest are connecting to the network without the control of the IT department. Your business will need to consider how to deal with this trend securely - putting in place and communicating a formal BYOD policy is crucial otherwise you could be risking the security of your network.
How do your employees prefer to work?
Employees may be more productive if they’re allowed to work remotely or whilst on the move. Research suggests that staff who use their personal devices for both work and personal use put in an extra 240 hours work per year versus those who don't.
If your business has already, or is looking to roll out flexible working practices then allowing the use of personal devices needs to be considered. Employees can still work when there is extreme weather, whilst travelling and even if personal circumstances keep them from the office. You’ll save money on travel expenses too, which also helps you reduce your carbon footprint. Plus you’ll be more likely to attract and retain the best talent.
You will want to ensure that your employees and guests receive the same quality and uninterrupted network access whether on a Wired, Wireless, VPN or WAN connection. Your network needs to be fast and robust to support this way of working, so it’s a good opportunity to review whether your existing network infrastructure is suitable or needs upgrading.
Keeping your business safe and secure
As well as speed, you’ll want to protect your business from any malicious attacks or viruses. So your network review could also consider security to make sure any potential risk is mitigated.
Choosing smartphones and other devices
Many businesses are allowing employees to choose their favourite device whilst others are leveraging buying power with favoured vendors to offer a choice of approved devices. You may want to alter the level of support you provide if something goes wrong, or you might want to pass on some of this responsibility to the user. Of course, all of this will affect the business case for rolling out your BYOD policy and the potential cost savings.
Visibility of connected devices
To enforce your BYOD policy, you need to know what devices are accessing business applications at any time. It’s essential to ensure your IT department have the systems in place to give them full visibility. Having a single interface which monitors and reports on what, when, who and how, will provide you with complete control and visibility.
Access all areas?
You'll need to consider which business applications to make accessible via devices and which ones to block. Will you allow access to just email, or full access to your CRM system and intranet? Requirements will vary for each of your employees, your business need and the device being used – it’s crucial that any BYOD policy can allow for this flexibility when setting rules for your business.
Make sure you have a clearly defined policy that sets expectations and the rules around support, acceptable use, privacy and any expense reimbursement. It’s also crucial to review the legal implications for your business. Consider the regulatory and corporate policies your business must adhere to, as well as other laws and regulations affecting your business. Your HR department might also want to consider making your BYOD policy part of its ‘new joiner’ training so new employees are aware from day one.
Your desktop on the move?
Desktop virtualisation gives the device of choice the same look and feel as a PC desktop. More importantly it saves on IT resource as applications and systems are located centrally rather than on each individual PC. It could save money and time when rolling out upgrades and fixing problems.
Communicating your BYOD policy
Clearly articulating and briefing the contents and benefits of your BYOD policy to your employees and making them aware of what they can or cannot do, and what they are responsible for is key.
Thinking about BYOD? See how BT and Cisco can help you with your BYOD approach at www.bt.com/byod.