It’s hard to find anyone these days who doesn’t have some sort of mobile device; in fact, most people have more than one. While in the past some companies provided phones, tablets or other devices to allow employees to stay in touch and work even when they weren’t in the office, these days more companies are allowing employees to use their own devices instead.
A bring your own device policy might sound appealing to you as an employee, since you can use the device that you already own, enjoy using and are familiar with, but there are some things you should know before you start making calls and running reports on your personal phone or tablet. There are some important security issues associated with using personal phones and other mobile devices. By using your personal property for work, you might be giving up some of our privacy and freedom.
Loss of Control
When you BYOD, you’re essentially giving your employer permission to access your phone – and control the security measures it contains. You can expect to lose some control, since the security measures that your employer installs could prevent you from downloading certain aps, for example. You’ll need to hand your device over to IT for security measures to be installed, and allow updates and automatic changes to take place.
You might also fall victim to a system “wipe” in some cases. If your phone is lost or stolen, for example, your employee may have the capability to remove all data from the device to prevent it from falling into the wrong hands. You can also expect to undergo a wipe if you leave the company. If you access highly sensitive or confidential data or networks on your phone, your employee may clear the phone or restore it to the point it was at when you were hired. This means all personal data – and apps –you’ve added to the device while you were working at the company would be lost. Imagine losing photos, emails, contacts; are you willing to risk that?
Loss of Privacy
Not only will your employer have the ability to enable security measures on your phone, the company will also be able to see everything that you do on the phone while it’s on the network – and everywhere you go with the phone. You might not think that you have anything to hide, but do you really want your boss knowing how much time you spend playing “Angry Birds” after work (or during work) or that you went to the corner watering hole three nights this week? Before you agree to use your own device, ask questions about restrictions on the phone, particularly during non-business hours and how your personal data will be used.
Many companies choose to move to a personal device model to save corporate costs – but those costs can be passed on to the employee. For example, you may be pressured to upgrade your devices more often than you normally would to comply with the requirements of your company’s network or security systems, or purchase upgraded data and calling plans to meet your increased needs. While many companies provide a stipend or reimbursement, are you willing to incur those increased costs?
24-Hour Work Environment
It’s a fact of today’s corporate environment that companies expect more out of employees than ever before. It used to be that employees could finish their work at 5 p.m. and were off the clock for the night, but some employers use the BYOD concept as an invitation to contact employees at all hours – even during off-time. Understand your employer’s expectations and policies regarding mobile access and when you are “on-call” before agreeing to use your personal devices for work.
Choosing to use your own device for work might sound like a great way to stay organized – and maybe subsidize some of the cost of that upgraded device you have your eye on – but be sure to know exactly what your employer expects and will do with your device before hopping on the bandwagon. If you’re concerned about your privacy and want to maintain control of your personal data and devices, then you may be better served to stay on the company plan.
About the Author: Donna McGuire is an executive recruiter and career coach. An expert on using technology in the workplace, she is working on a book on getting the most out of your mobile devices at work.