BYOD: disadvantages and advantages to consider

BYOD has its advantages and disadvantages. An abbreviation of “Bring Your Own Device”, this trendy, relatively new workplace innovation has made a big splash in the past few years.

Some people love BYOD. As an employee, you get to use your own familiar laptop or smartphone. As an employer, you get to save money on buying expensive equipment.

But Bring Your Own Device has many detractors too. A wide variety of different devices makes support difficult. Without strong policies, they also introduce numerous cybersecurity concerns.

So, is Bring Your Own Device right for your business?

Let’s take a little look at the pros and cons of BYOD:

BYOD advantages

1) You please your team

BYOD policies tend to be universally popular. On the whole, employees tend to feel they have more autonomy and control at work. This often means they work harder and more happily, resulting in greater job satisfaction.

On top of this, many companies with BYOD policies also allow remote and hybrid working with all of the attendant boosts in work-life balance this implies.

2) You save money on tech and training

It’s not just the cost of buying the laptops or smartphones (or whatever device you’re allowing your team to bring their own version of) that you’re saving. It’s the cost of any training and staff time that might be needed to make them familiar with their new company-issued bit of kit.

3) You minimise technical obstacles

Every member of your team is likely to have their own preferred bit of software or individual features they prefer to use in their work. With their own device, they will have the freedom to utilise those at will.

Issued with a company laptop and default programs though, there is a risk they might hit situations they don’t know how to solve. They may need to ask better-informed colleagues or the internet for solutions, impacting their productivity.

BYOD disadvantages

1) You introduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities

If done incorrectly and with loose controls and policies, permitting your team to “Bring Your Own Device” potentially introduces all kinds of cybersecurity risks to your business:

  1. Weak or reused passwords
  2. Non-sanctioned apps or software that may have weak security
  3. Outdated or unsupported hardware or software (adding further vulnerabilities)
  4. Poor or non-existent firewalls, encryption, and other security measures
  5. The potential for use on unsecure public Wi-Fi networks

2) You make support more difficult

One of the major disadvantages of BYOD is that it makes it that much more difficult to roll out changes to your IT systems.

By way of example, any time you change a tool you use, your IT team or Managed Service Provider will have much more work to do fixing all the compatibility problems introduced by having a big mix of device hardware and software setups to troubleshoot and support.

The same is true any time anything breaks down. If you’re relying on your IT department to repair any technical problems your team experiences on their BYOD equipment, it’s going to require a great deal more time and effort.

What is a BYOD policy?

A BYOD policy lays out all of your rules for how your team is allowed to use their personal devices in the workplace.

Good Bring Your Own Device policies can mitigate many of the disadvantages of BYOD. Here is how to create one for your business:

  1. Lay the groundwork – talk to all of your relevant departments and department heads to build buy-in. Carry out a risk assessment so you know what to avoid.
  2. Get ready for device management – allowing the full “wild west” situation that many detractors imagine BYOD to be is a bad idea. Make sure you or your Managed Service Provider have a software solution in place ready to manage BYOD devices.
  3. Set limits on devices – again, it’s risky to simply allow any devices to be used. Set minimum operational and security requirements and/ or required software.
  4. Detail your cybersecurity approach – make it very clear (and have your MSP or IT department confirm) that everyone is abiding by your cybersecurity policies. This should include Cyber Essentials basics like regular updates, antivirus software, and the like.
  5. Confirm acceptable use definitions – such as restricted websites that should not be visited or apps that should not be downloaded or used as well as legal documents specifying who owns what software and when it should be removed (e.g. if your team member resigns).
  6. Communicate all of this clearly – many BYOD policies fail at the last hurdle when businesses fail to communicate rules and expectations to their team. This may involve specific training on things like password management and data security.

BYOD pros and cons

While BYOD isn’t suitable for every workplace (we even dare to say it’s not suitable for most businesses), the disadvantages of Bring Your Own Device can be largely ameliorated by a strong BYOD policy that is clearly communicated and enforced.

Of course, allowing that “wild west” culture – where any use of any device goes – will normally be a bad move. But, properly systematised and managed, BYOD can work for some businesses.

Unsure if BYOD is for you? Want to talk through implementing a BYOD policy for your business?

Let’s chat. Set up a cost and commitment consultation with Dial A Geek Managing Director Gildas Jones today to explore how we have already helped 1000 businesses in Bristol and beyond get the best from their tech.