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Create a Personal Device Policy that Works for Your Company

From iPhones to tablets to wearable technology, mobile devices are indispensable tools that help employees stay connected – and productive.

And with estimates predicting over 2 billion global smartphone users by the end of 2015, businesses are under increased pressure to establish programs that allow employees to use their own technology at work.

Has your company made the transition?

If you haven’t already created a “Bring Your Own Device” or “BYOD” policy, chances are you will need to in the near future. The question is: How can you create a solid policy that balances the needs of employees and your business, while minimizing liabilities? This post shows you how.

When employees BYOD, they’re more mobile, satisfied and productive. But along with these benefits comes additional risk. Beyond the obvious IT issues, HR now faces new potential concerns:

  • Harassment concerns. When employees use their own devices to communicate, how do you effectively enforce your company’s anti-harassment policies?
  • Wage and hour issues. When employees work while away from the office, how do you accurately track time and calculate pay?
  • Protecting important company information. If you have a BYOD policy, employees may need to store sensitive documents or protected information on their personal devices. When you terminate someone, how do you retrieve and delete that information?

Use these tips from Wood Personnel to create a smart personal device policy that allows you to reap the benefits while still protecting your company:

  1. Know what technology your employees are using. A BYOD program that doesn’t support current and intended purchases will have limited appeal.
  2. Define baselines for personal device security and supportability features. Work with IT to develop minimum acceptable standards in areas such as encryption, virus protection, password protection, remote lock/wipe, and configurations for email, wi-fi and VPNs. Doing so will minimize both security breaches and support headaches.
  3. Specify which devices are allowed, and why. This will prevent users from purchasing unsupported devices.
  4. Determine which apps are allowed and banned. Major considerations include apps for social media browsing, replacement email applications and remote-access software.
  5. Define a clear service policy for supported personal devices. Make sure employees understand: the levels of support available for initially connecting personal devices to your network; the support available for broken devices; how personal applications will be handles when they conflict with apps required for work. By clearly outlining service policies, you will prevent problems and keep employees from becoming frustrated with service levels from IT.
  6. Explain how your existing policies, including pay and harassment, apply to BYOD device usage.
  7. Establish procedures and guidelines for how and where to store company information. Include restrictions on cloud-based storage, as well as syncing personal devices with other devices in employees’ homes.
  8. Set appropriate limits on using cameras and making personal calls (including texting and messaging) during the work day.
  9. Provide emergency plans, so employees know what to do if their equipment is lost, stolen, hacked or damaged.
  10. Include a provision for how personal devices will be handled if an employee quits or is terminated. Consider requiring employees to sign a release saying that they understand you may need to recover data from their devices at their time of exit.
  11. Plan ahead. Technology is constantly evolving; so must your BYOD policy. Periodically review the newest devices and develop an easy certification plan to incorporate the best.

As with all policy development, a little thought and planning go a long way in ensuring successful implementation. By effectively balancing employer and employee needs with a sound personal device policy, you can ensure a positive user experience while still protecting your company.