How Should Small Business Owners Respond to the Mobile Revolution?
Mobile devices have a prevalent place in the modern office. In fact, a recent study by Gartner found that 80 percent of all employees bring their personal mobile device with them to work. This Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend comes with a host of benefits, like improved productivity and employee morale, but it increases the risk of a corporate data breach if not properly managed. How should a concerned business owner respond to this trend?
The responses we’ve seen over the years is either employers trying to curb it by supplying company devices, or nixing mobile devices altogether. Both of these options have some serious side effects that must be taken into consideration.
I’ll Just Issue Business-Approved Mobile Devices
Depending on the kind of work your employees do, this might be a good perk. You can take serious considerations into the platform (iOS, Android, Windows), contract terms, and how the company will control and protect its data. You can also map out how you will separate work from personal use on the device, clearly lay out what you can do and what the employee can do, what happens if the device is lost, what happens if the employee quits, etc.
The problem with this method is that it’s often seen as a quick fix. Throwing money at this problem and forcing employees to use work-issued devices won’t solve the problem of controlling data without putting together the plan. Plus, while statistics do show that employees aren’t necessarily unhappy with corporate devices, if they feel strong-armed into using a device, the staff who were using their own devices to actually work harder and more effectively might feel slighted. That said, other employees might like the idea of getting a new smartphone on the company’s dime. It’s really going to depend on your employees and company culture.
I’ll Just Ban All Mobile Devices in the Workplace
It’s a big ultimatum: no email access, no file access, no messengers, no note-taking, no mobile devices, period. Anyone caught using a personal device will be penalized or written up. You’ll certainly protect your data this way. Chances are though, you’ll also create agita with staff who were really just trying to do their jobs better. Employees won’t think about the ramifications of lost data, they will just think their boss is making it harder for them to be effective. Fortunately, most employers haven’t resorted to this, but it still happens. Beyond just stirring up emotions, this can drastically set your company back compared to competitors that are welcoming mobility and benefiting from it.
It Sounds Bad, But There are Options
There is a middle-ground between banning devices altogether and enforcing company-issued devices. Policies can be put in place that protects company assets like email and access to data while respecting the privacy of your employees. Employers can push policies - like enforcing users to set up passwords, patterns, or pins to log into the device, grant the ability to revoke access to email, and even wipe the device remotely if it is lost or stolen.
Personal laptops can be granted company antivirus and remote monitoring, or better yet, employers can offer a VPN or hosted desktop solution so they won’t have to worry about the state of the device. The latter can also address other needs such as software licensing and accessing company data while on public Wi-Fi.
White Mountain IT Services Can Help
The best way for a business owner to handle mobile devices in the workplace is to implement a BYOD strategy--one that addresses every security risk while enhancing all the benefits of mobile technology. Every business is different, which is why it’s best to have a consultant like White Mountain IT Services work with you to develop a BYOD strategy that’s tailored to enhance your company’s goals. Plus, given the security risk inherent in mobile devices, you’ll want an outside perspective to make sure you’re not overlooking anything important.
For professional assistance developing an effective BYOD strategy for your business, give us a call today at 603-889-0800.