A bring your own phone (BYOP) policy refers to a business either allowing or requiring its employees to use their personal mobile phones for company business. This use may be voluntary or required and compensated for or not, but the common factor is that personal phones have access to potentially sensitive company information and a BYOP policy balances the benefits with the risks.
In this article, we’ll discuss some of those benefits and risks as well as give you a free BYOP policy template and some tips on how to implement one at your small business.
If your business allows or requires its employees to bring their own phones, we recommend using a virtual phone service like RingCentral. Giving your employees access to a separate business phone line via their personal cell phone is an easy and cost effective way to help manage any risk.
The widespread proliferation of smartphones, as well as ever-increasing data limits and fewer usage restrictions, has made it more common for employees to use their personal phones for company business.
A recent CBS MoneyWatch survey reported that more than 67 percent of workers used one or more of their own devices at work. Other studies have found that employee productivity, morale, and accountability improve with bring your own device (BYOD) policies while the business’ hardware and service costs decrease.
But as a business owner, what considerations should you make before deciding whether to allow or require your own employees to use their own phones for work?
The first question that probably comes to mind is the cost — specifically, whether or not to reimburse your employees for using their phones and, if so, how much.
To help answer this, a recent Tech Pro Research survey found that only 7 percent of businesses fully reimbursed their employees for the cost of their hardware and data costs and only 18 percent received partial reimbursement. This is mostly because of high data limits and unlimited talktime plans becoming increasingly common; there is no additional financial burden on the employee to use their personal phone for business.
If you’re requiring your employees to use their personal phones for business, then you may wish to offer a partial reimbursement of their monthly plan as a gesture of goodwill. If, however, the employee is choosing to use their own phone then this may not be necessary.
Another option is to pay for a business phone line using a virtual phone service like RingCentral. It allows you to use the same number for both your mobile and desk phone, so you and your employees can balance productivity and flexibility without having to give a personal phone number for business use. We discuss this option in more detail below. You can also click here to get a free trial with RingCentral to see how it can benefit your business.
Securing Your Data
Another important consideration to make is the security of any sensitive data. If a phone is lost or stolen, then an outsider may have access to sensitive company data and client information. Similarly, if an employee quits or is terminated, you wouldn’t want them to have access either.
In both cases, this can be mitigated by using cloud-based productivity applications, such as the Google suite. Because your access to the Google suite is linked to your email address and controlled by a central administrator (most likely you, the business owner), you simply have to deactivate the email address to remove all access to the applications and data.
Business Phone Numbers
Finally, being able to separate your employee’s personal calls from their business ones is important for two reasons:
- It helps to establish boundaries between professional and personal life so that the employee doesn’t feel like they’re always working; and,
- It makes it easy to disconnect the employee’s extension if their employment ends.
We recommend using a virtual phone service, such as RingCentral, to create a dedicated phone number for your business. Using RingCentral, you can create extensions and have callers who dial those extensions forwarded to the respective employee’s mobile phone. Calls made from their mobile devices can also appear to originate from your business phone number. You also get helpful call management features like voicemail-to-email, call transfers, and fax service for a minimal cost — features that are usually only available through full VoIP phone services.
Most importantly, though, is that using a virtual phone service enables you to disconnect an employee’s extension if their employment ends. This will prevent them from receiving any business calls or making and calls from your business line. This has two benefits:
- Added security for your business; and,
- The employee won’t be bothered by calls for a business they no longer work at.
Implementing a BYOP Policy
A smart and comprehensive BYOP policy can also go a long way in helping to protect your business. You may not be able to guarantee compliance, but it’s an essential first step.
For example, prohibiting the use of mobile devices to send offensive or explicit text messages or access offensive or explicit websites, instituting training plans to clarify potential liabilities, and requiring security measures like enabling remote wipe features. Any consequences for non-compliance should be made clear as well.
We recommend using this bring your own device (BYOD) policy as a template, then editing it to make it specific to phones and your business. This will be your BYOP policy, which you can then require your employees to sign and agree to.
This template helps to protect both your business and your employee, including guidelines for:
- Expectation of privacy, which states that your business will respect the privacy of the personal phone and any personal data that’s stored on it
- Accessing company resources, including any sensitive data, and not copying it onto the personal device except where it’s required for the job
- Basic security measures, including password protection, keeping the operating system up to date, not “jailbreaking” the phone, and not sharing the phone with friends or family
- Specifying which applications are to be used to conduct business on
The Bottom Line
Allowing or requiring your employees to use their own phones at your business can save your business money while also making work more convenient for your employee. However, there are some considerations that need to be made, including cost sharing, security, and work/life boundaries. These can be easily mitigated by using a virtual phone service, such as RingCentral, and implementing a comprehensive BYOP policy that improves workflows for both you and your employees.