What Is a Bring Your Own Device Policy? (+ Free Sample Agreement)
This article is part of a larger series on VoIP.
BYOD stands for “bring your own device,” a company policy that allows employees to use personal devices (e.g., computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones) to perform work-related tasks. A BYOD policy covers all the guidelines for the responsible use of technology, including which devices are accepted and who owns the data stored on the device. The organization and team members benefit from this policy, as it promotes cost savings, convenience, and flexibility.
How a Bring Your Own Device Policy Works
Now that we have answered the fundamental question, “What is a bring your own device policy?” it’s time to dive deeper into how it works. The implementation typically involves three stages: putting the policy on paper, encouraging sign-ups for the BYOD program, and training employees.
Drafting the Policy
At the core, bring your own device policies are written rules guiding how employees use their personal devices for work. Click on the drop-down menu below to learn more about the items included in most company guidelines:
This enumerates the types of applications and company-owned data employees are free to access from their personal devices and which ones have restrictions. For example, they may use their smartphones to check emails and calendars, but they must not use them to visit gambling sites when connected to the company’s network.
This outlines the kinds of devices the information technology (IT) department approves, considering the device compatibility with existing communications platforms, including business phone systems. Companies that use cloud-based platforms like RingCentral and Nextiva accommodate a broader range of devices since these systems work across Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android operating systems.
When listing types of devices, organizations typically enumerate the brands of allowed laptops, tablets, and smartphones, as well as specific operating systems. Others will go into detail about the models and versions.
This lists all the device security measures to reduce the likelihood of data leakage. Most bring your own device policies include password requirements, inactivity lockouts, encryption for data at-rest and in-transit, and installation of mobile device management (MDM) software.
MDM software enables IT professionals to control and secure smartphones, tablets, laptops, and other mobile devices. It features device tracking, app security, and identity and access management. If a device gets lost or stolen, the software enables the IT team to remotely wipe out confidential information and restore the device to factory settings, keeping unauthorized users from accessing company data.
A BYOD policy also includes the support companies offer when an employee’s personal device encounters hardware or software issues. It specifies the level of support for physical damages, the contact person for operating system issues (device manufacturer or mobile carrier), and the reimbursement guidelines for device repairs.
If you want a detailed list of guidelines, download our sample bring your own device policy below. As you draft your own, consult your legal team to reflect the specific laws in your state.
Facilitating Device Sign-up
The next phase in the BYOD policy rollout is the enrollment of devices. The general principle here is to make it easy for employees to register. There shouldn’t be too many papers to fill out or several batches of approvals. Ideally, when team members sign the BYOD agreement, they should be able to self-enroll their devices through a company app or portal.
Training for BYOD Compliance
The last step in the process of BYOD implementation is training employees. Ensure your workforce understands the policy’s rationale and the risks when they don’t comply. The training could happen during the onboarding of a new employee or a department-wide session with a representative from the IT department when there are new updates to the BYOD policy.
Given the rise in remote work and the steady increase in smartphone ownership, many companies are looking to adopt a BYOD policy to support employees. The emphasis on team collaboration pushes organizations to allow personal devices for work-related activities and make communication with colleagues easier.
Here are the specific benefits of a BYOD policy for small businesses:
Save Money on Technology
With a BYOD policy, there’s no need to buy new phones and laptops for every employee. The savings don’t stop with the upfront cost, as you’ll also slash expenses in terms of maintenance and replacements. Most employees tend to be more careful when using their own devices versus company-issued technologies.
Improve Employee Productivity
Since employees use their own devices, they’re already familiar with and comfortable navigating the system and using the different apps. There’s no learning curve, and they can immediately start working on tasks: replying to emails, attending virtual meetings, and collaborating with team members via instant messaging.
Accommodate Employee Preferences
Some employees like Android operating systems, while others favor iOS. Then some prefer Windows over Mac and vice versa. By giving team members the freedom to use the devices they want, they not only become productive in their work, but also get a morale boost.
Tap Into New Technologies
Employees tend to keep their own software systems updated. They are also more likely to upgrade to newer devices whenever a new smartphone or laptop comes out in the market. With a BYOD policy, your business can take advantage of the latest technologies without the hefty overhead costs.
Why BYOD Policies May Not Work for Your Business
While there are clear benefits to introducing a BYOD policy in your business, there are instances where it’s not the ideal arrangement. For instance, when employees themselves resist using their own devices for work, it’s likely the policy implementation will not be as effective as you would hope for.
There are many reasons for employees’ reluctance toward BYOD, including the following:
- Blurred lines between personal and business data
- Current devices not suitable for job requirements
- Increased distraction from accessible social media and game apps
If, based on surveys and feedback, you sense a pushback from employees on the policy, explore the possibility of a corporate-owned device policy over BYOD.
Another instance where the BYOD policy may not work for some small businesses is when they lack a well-equipped team to offer training. Training is a critical part of implementing the policy, covering not only the onboarding of different BYOD devices, but also the rules on security, data ownership, and access to corporate resources like virtual private networks (VPN) and emails.
Your IT team requires training to accommodate the influx of new devices. If you only have a few people in your IT department, it’s better to choose a corporate-owned device policy, where you get to limit the range of devices from the get-go and focus only on those devices for the training.
Finally, a BYOD policy may not be the right fit for your business if you don’t have a robust security framework. You must have an MDM solution in place to help you protect confidential company data in case a device gets lost or stolen or employees unintentionally leak information to hackers while connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Bring Your Own Device Best Practices
If you think a BYOD policy is suitable for your highly mobile workforce and offers cost savings and the potential to boost employee productivity, the next most important consideration is how to enforce it effectively. As you look at different bring your own device policy examples and consult with the IT and legal team, bear in mind these best practices for implementing the guidelines:
Clarify Data Ownership
One of the top reasons employees are reluctant about BYOD is the fear of losing control and ownership of their personal devices. This is why it’s essential to document in your guidelines who owns which data, especially emails and contacts. Moreover, there should be a clause stating that you commit to protecting your end-user privacy by using an MDM solution that separates personal and business information.
Improve Security Policies
Aside from unsecure networks and device theft and misplacement, BYOD-related security issues include malicious apps downloaded and unsecure data transfer. To minimize these risks, your BYOD plan should have the following security measures:
- Determine parameters for password protection, including length, special characters, and capital letters.
- Enable two-factor authentication in company apps, making users answer security questions or provide the code sent via email or text.
- Implement a device lock after a specific idle period or several failed unlock attempts.
- Install anti-malware software on your employees’ personal devices.
- Block downloads of apps from sketchy, unauthorized platforms.
- Use MDM software to access devices remotely and remove confidential company data when the device gets lost or stolen.
- Make sure that company data, including emails, are encrypted and can only be sent via company-mandated applications.
- Require employees to report all lost or stolen devices within 24 hours.
Highlight Repercussions of Non-compliance in Training
The training should cover the specific provisions in the policy as well as the disciplinary actions team members will receive if they don’t abide by the company rules. It should also be clear how slip-ups in compliance compromise secure setup and lead to a data breach.
As you know, a data breach results in a loss of privacy that renders employees, customers, and other stakeholders vulnerable to cybercrime. The other risks to the business include financial losses, stopped operations, damaged reputation, loss of customers, and litigation.
Prepare an Employee Off-boarding Plan
Don’t make the mistake of making the employee exit an afterthought in your BYOD policy. The most critical element in the offboarding plan is restricting access to company resources, from email and intranet to customer relationship management (CRM) tools.
Similarly, your IT team should be able to wipe all company-related data from the devices. Specify if this security measure entails presenting devices physically or if it can happen remotely. Even before an employee leaves, they should know the specifics of the exit plan, especially what kinds of data will be wiped from their devices.
To make it easier to roll out your own policy, we put together a BYOD checklist. Use it as a reference for drafting and polishing your guidelines.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Who pays for BYOD?
End-users or employees pay for the costs of their personal devices in exchange for the freedom to carry their own for work. However, some companies offer a stipend to cover data plan expenses. The average cost of reimbursement is between $30 and $50 a month, according to a recent study by Oxford Economics and Samsung. If you need a quick guide on the monthly prices of mobile services, check out this buyer’s guide on the best cell phone plans.
How many companies adopt BYOD policies?
This fact sheet cites a study from Research and Markets, saying that 95% of companies allowed employees to use their personal devices for work before the pandemic. Meanwhile, in a separate study from Mordor Intelligence, 85% of organizations adopted BYOD policies because of the coronavirus crisis. Along with the new normal of remote setup during the pandemic, businesses allowed employees to use personal devices for work.
Is it legal for companies to track locations under the BYOD policy?
Yes, it’s legal as long as the employee expresses consent. In line with this, it’s important to state in your policy that the company will monitor device location for different business needs, for example, managing delivery times and locating a lost or stolen device.
A bring your own device policy benefits businesses in various ways: cost savings, robust productivity, and improved employee morale over the freedom to use their own devices. However, it also comes with a host of security risks and a broad range of IT responsibilities. With clearly defined guidelines for preventing data leakage and a well-equipped and properly trained IT team, your business can overcome these BYOD hurdles.
As you choose among small business voice-over-internet-protocol (VoIP) services in the market, consider software solutions that allow carrying personal devices like RingCentral and Nextiva to complement your existing policy.