How To Manage Bring Your Own Device in the Workplace

byod devices workplaceMany people have access to their own portable devices, and this is fostering a very personal way in which we work. But how exactly should this be adopted into the workplace? BYOD or Bring Your Own Device to work is becoming increasingly important for many startups and small businesses. This is mainly because it’s seen as a miracle cure for reducing purchasing budgets and empowering the employee by providing them with the freedom and comfort of working with their own devices using their own software and style.

There are many different aspects to consider when adopting BYOD for your workplace.

1.  Modification and development of your Acceptable Usage Policy (AUP).

You want to allow you staff to have the freedom to use their own devices, but at the same time you want to ensure that by using their own devices you are ensuring productivity and security of sensitive information. When adopting BYOD practices, you need to setup an agreement between management and staff to determine what each users’ device may be used for, what is expected of each user and how they may interact with company data. Specifically the AUP needs to address which devices are going to be supported, how far the spheres of responsibility for the maintenance of those devices extend, the security practices which must be adhered to during their use and what happens to the device when the user leaves.

Not all smart devices and laptops have the same capabilities so if you don’t want to have to engage in additional support or training costs you should always think about standardisation, which is admittedly at odds with the variations inherent with the BYOD concept. If the user owns the device, who is going to manage and take responsibility for it should anything go wrong? If a user needs to use 3G/4G data plans during the legitimate completion of their job how is the usage going to be measured with a view to financial compensation? When the user leaves how is the company going to ensure that any data held on the device is removed without endangering any private data?

2.  Managing the integration process.

The best way to illicit user cooperation is to keep things simple whilst making sure it works. When the various devices are brought onto the network the process by which they are connected must be kept as simple as possible. An ideal would be the user being able to follow a bullet pointed list complete with screenshots where possible. This benefits the users’ confidence by empowering them whilst preventing IT from having to cope with the burden of additional device configuration.

3.  Prepare the infrastructure.

The most common types of user purchased devices are smart phones and tablets. Not all of them are used in the pursuit of achieving corporate goals and are simply the personal phone / communication device a user carries about their person as part of their sociodigital existence. You can’t necessarily stop your workers from accessing sites like Facebook or Reddit for example. This doesn’t change the fact that IT will often have to make allowances for the influx of such devices and ensure that they are only connecting to “guest” wireless connections or some other isolated network segment which, above all, maintains conformity to the pre-established company security policy.

BYOD can be used in any kind of network infrastructure, but more naturally lends itself to an infrastructure which has migrated to the cloud. This type of infrastructure, where both applications and data are stored in the cloud are inherently insensitive to the end user device. Moreover a cloud infrastructure will always have the potential for greater security control whilst maintaining flexibility for data access.

christopheboudetpicChristophe Boudet is Managing Director of Akita, a IT support and services firm based in Kent (optional U.K.)