Should Employees be allowed to use their personal devices for work purposes?
We are often asked if employees should be allowed to use their personal computers, tablets, or phones for work purposes. While there is no right or wrong answer to that question, there are a couple things to be considered when deciding what your company policy will be. As iPhones, Androids, and Tablets blaze into consumer market there is ever increasing pressure to allow those same devices to be used inside of your organization.
Standardization: Your IT Department probably has many practices and procedures in place for all the technology in your organization. These practices and procedures were probably put in place to minimize downtime and keep your corporate data secure. By allowing your staff to utilize their own equipment, it may jeopardize that level of security or protection. Another issue that comes into play is that you may end up paying your IT department for personal computing issues. A quick example of this is that your employee, John Smith, uses his home computer for work purposes. His son Jack comes home from college, jumps on that PC and loads it with spyware. John is now unable to complete his work tasks and calls your IT department for help. In order to get John back to work your IT Department fixes the issue. In this particular case you need to ask yourself: How much was the time spent by your IT Department worth? Was it worth more or less than what you saved by not having to purchase John Smith a work PC?
Company assets intermingle with personal ones: Let’s say you allow Jane Doe to use her personal laptop; however, once she starts working you realize she does not have Microsoft office or anti-virus software so you purchase it for her. Your organization owns the license but if she were to leave your organization she is running your copy of office. What is that old saying about possession?
Security: We all know in this economy there can and will be turnover of staff. If you allow employees to utilize personal resources, how do you get your data back after that person is no longer with the company? If they are utilizing company resources, such as a company issued laptop or cell phone, you can simply ask for it back because it is your equipment. However, if it’s the employee’s personal laptop or cell phone, it could turn into a legal scenario as they own the equipment in question. So what legal right do you have to it? The question becomes: how valuable is your data to you and your business?
The Cloud will change everything: As the cloud emerges, whether a public or private, it begins to change the issues at hand. Data becomes secure to remote devices as it is never really being stored on a local computer or phone. The devices become shells that allow users to access your data. Therefore, when a staff member leaves, you can just shut off that service. Sounds ideal! Unfortunately, we are not entirely in that world – yet.
What should I do: The pressure to use personal devices is one that is created by the consumer; however, this pressure will not exist for your organization if you continue to provide your employees with the ability to use newer, cutting edge devices. The hard part about that is the investment you will need to make to ensure your technology infrastructure can support those devices and your bank account can afford to be purchasing them.
Our current recommendation would be to weigh the pros and cons. Decide how important is your data to you? How important is the time of your IT Department if you have to support personal computing issues? When you do not have to purchase hardware or software for your staff, is that a greater savings than the items above? Only you can decide what is right for your organization.