Published in Smart Business May 7, 2014
The benefits of unleashing employees with mobile devices are many: increased productivity, employee flexibility and the resulting higher morale, improved communication and collaboration, and quicker decision-making. Yet there are risks involved, so what is a smart manager to do?
The answer is to develop an effective yet evolving BYOD (bring your own device) policy to guide how employees use their devices to do their jobs. Our company’s policy is fluid; it changes as we face a new issue.
One foundation is our acceptance that company information and personal information are going to co-mingle on the mobile phone. The policy states that mobile devices used for business
purposes are subject to company inspection. Although we don’t care about employees’ personal information and respect their privacy, we need to have ways to control access to office data and intellectual property while preserving the company’s reputation.
Also, our information technology manager has tools to remove company data from mobile phones being used for business purposes. So if a phone is lost, stolen or an employee leaves the company, we can be sure the information is secure.
One of the first tasks was to identify which job functions needed mobile phones. All salespeople are required to carry company-owned mobile phones so we control the phone numbers and their content. If other employees don’t want to carry two phones, they can request to use a personal phone for business. We ask, however, that they turn over their phone number (and the monthly bill) to the company. The number is transferred back to them when they leave the company on good terms.
A BYOD policy shouldn’t be created in a vacuum. Input from affected operations – sales, marketing, legal and HR to name a few – is vital. Done right, the policy can be a reflection of the company’s culture, ethics and trust shown in employees. While our objective is to have a high degree of control over mobile access, we aim to be very transparent about it. The policy is updated annually and included in the employee handbook, which employees are asked to review each year.
The proliferation of mobility is a boom for workplace productivity. Companies, however, need to be prepared for this. A comprehensive and workable BYOD policy can mitigate the risk by balancing security and giving employees the tools they need to be productive on the go.
James Thompson is the CEO and president of the InSource Group, a technology staffing and placement company based in Dallas. He can be reached at JT@insourcegroup.com.