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How Beneficial is BYOD for Employees?

According to a survey conducted by ZDNet, more than 60 percent of businesses polled said that they would have a BYOD policy in place by the end of the year. The impact on employees could be minimal or significant, depending on the details of the policy. We're constantly told employees adore BYOD because it allows them to use their own devices. But just how much do they really adore this policy? Is the focus on personal device usage just a show to blind employees from all the aspects of BYOD they may not like so much?

Company Justifications for BYOD

Cost savings for the business continues to be a primary motivation, says Forbes. Some companies require employees to cover the entire cost of their mobile devices and voice/data plans. Other companies reimburse employees at least partially. To a company that's used to purchasing hundreds of mobile phones and plans every year for employees, the opportunity to reduce those capital expenses is a big draw. The other less quantifiable justification is the potential increase in employee moral and productivity. Some companies are reporting these increases, reports Computer Weekly, but there is no hard data yet.    

What is the True Impact on the Employee?

People have been bringing their personal devices to work for a long time. Companies created digital use policies to try to control access, but often allowed the employee to use whatever they needed to do their job. The new BYOD policies will likely be more restrictive, allowing only certain devices to be connected to the company’s resources. Even if your company allows you to connect with your latest Android smartphone, will it standardize on 4.2 Jellybean? Will you have to wait to download 4.3 Jellybean? What about the apps you love to use? Many companies will control the allowable apps by creating their own repository from which you’ll choose what to use. You may download the newest photo editing program one night only to find the next morning that you can’t use it at work.

How Much Control is Too Much?

Companies implementing a large scale BYOD program may rely on a mobile device management (MDM) solution. These applications control everything from registering allowable devices to wiping clean lost or stolen devices. Of the MDMs available, the BlackBerry Enterprise Service is one of the most advanced. With this, a company can support multiple operating systems and device types. With these systems in place, the question of privacy comes up. How much access will they have to personal data? What ability will they have to track and log your activity with these devices? The BYOD policies should spell this out in detail so the employee will know what to expect. This leads to a concern is how a device is treated that is lost or stolen. These MDMs allow employers to wipe a device clean to remove the company data. Depending on how the systems are configured and the way that company and personal data are intertwined, such as a shared contact list, all data on a device might get cleared. This will be an annoyance if you later discover your lost phone at the bottom of your gym bag. How backup and recovery is configured in the company can make it merely a minor inconvenience to restore data to your phone, or a nightmare.