Many employees nowadays use their personal digital devices for work-related purposes, a practice known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). Companies should implement a formal BYOD policy that clarifies the rules and expectations surrounding the use of personal devices at work, particularly when it comes to critical questions of security and confidentiality. A BYOD policy will ensure that employers and employees alike understand their responsibilities in regards to their devices.
When it comes to crafting a BYOD policy, it’s important to cover all the vital points while keeping everything as clear and specific as possible. Few employees are even going to read—let alone obey—a BYOD policy that’s full of endless, impenetrable legal jargon. Keep the following tips in mind as you create your company’s BYOD policy to ensure that it’s as effective, viable, and easy to follow as possible.
Plan for the long-term.
Technology is evolving rapidly, and it can be difficult to “future proof” a BYOD policy that deals with digital devices. However, you can address this to a certain extent by making your BYOD policy endpoint independent so that new and emerging devices, platforms, and other scenarios can be accommodated, as needed. Furthermore, planning for the long term in this way will help to ensure that rules can be consistently enforced: if policies have to be revised every time a new device comes on the scene, it makes it difficult for employees to keep up with what they should be doing.
Get everyone involved.
Since the BYOD policy will affect all the employees in your company, it’s important to ensure that everyone has a say in the development process. Many companies find it useful to build a BYOD policy team that includes broad representation from all of the critical departments, including HR, IT, legal, and accounting and finance. Getting all the important stakeholders involved from the beginning of the process will help to ensure that your BYOD policy factors in a variety of viewpoints and meets the necessary security, functionality, regulatory, and technical requirements. Moreover, a diverse policy creation team will be better able to identify potential problems before they become real-time issues.
Think beyond one-size-fits-all.
Depending on the size of your company and the nature of its operations, you might want to think about establishing a different BYOD policy for each group of people that you work with in your organization. For example, your company may permit permanent, full-time employees to access sensitive company data on their personal devices, but it may not allow temporary employees to have that same privilege. Similarly, you might need to give a contractor the right to use a different type of device than what most other employees are normally permitted to use. Creating a different policy that is specific to each of these groups could help your company to reduce confusion and better manage security risks.
Consider how you’ll manage problems.
Don’t forget that your BYOD policy is not only about how to make sure that things go right. It’s also about how your company will respond when things go wrong. No matter how well-crafted your policy is, it’s inevitable that BYOD-related problems will arise, so you need a plan in place as part of your BYOD policy that outlines how those problems will be dealt with. When it comes to the question of security breaches, it’s essential to formalize a clear incident management process that will address these serious issues. Moreover, you’ll also want to consider other less urgent problems. For example, who is responsible for fixing a BYOD device if it malfunctions: your company or the employee?
Provide information and training sessions for employees.
Even the best BYOD policy isn’t very useful if it’s not effectively communicated to employees. During the BYOD policy development process, you should make sure to take time out to plan how you will introduce the policy to employees and ensure that they understand it. For example, you might hold informational sessions to discuss the policy and answer questions. In addition, you might consider creating a guidebook that employees can reference, or you might set up one-on-one meetings with employees and the IT department. Whichever communication method that you select, you should ensure that you focus on clarity and transparency, and work to properly tailor your message and materials to your audience.
Work for the benefit of employee and businesses alike.
The best BYOD policies are mutually beneficial to both businesses and their employees. After all, both sides stand to gain when employees are allowed to use their own devices for work. This means that companies need to find a balance between maintaining enterprise security and respecting the privacy rights of employees and their devices. For example, if it’s not necessary to disable or restrict certain features—such as the screenshot feature or third-party apps—employers should consider giving employees the freedom to make their own choices about such uses. If BYOD policies demonstrate a clear respect for employees’ rights, then they will be much more likely to follow them.