First let me explain the acronym BYOD for those of you that are unfamiliar with it. BYOD stands for bring your own device. It is the process of a company allowing an employee to use their own phone, tablet, and or laptop as their work device. It is a boon to smaller companies because they don’t have to provide the financial outlay to buy phones, tablets or computers for everyone. But as with everything there have to be some guidelines. So here are three important issues you should be concerned about in your BYOD policy.
Attorney Zachary Busey, of the firm Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC, wrote an excellent piece about BYOD policies. These issues are drawn from there.
You have to remember it is their personal device. That means the phone number is theirs and they have a great deal of personal information on their, including photos of friends, family and other personal activities, including some you don’t really want to see. But at the same time company data will be loaded on there as well and the company has the right to access that information and to safeguard that information. So how do you do that? Busey mentions that there are applications that allow a company to “wipe” a device in order to protect company information. Doing so without the employee’s permission could be a major bone of contention. So it is necessary to have in your policy an explicit statement that details under what circumstances this will be done and when. You must have the employee sign off on this detail.
Much like what companies are going through with social media accounts, there may at some point be a dispute on who owns the phone number an employee is using. The example Busey gives deals with a sales rep who takes calls from customers on that phone. If that sales rep where to leave customers may continue to call her thinking it was the “company number”. If the sales rep had moved to a competitor that is the last thing a company would want. So the question becomes who owns that number. That is an answer that will probably common through litigation.
It should be clear that an employee should have no expectation of privacy in regards to that device that is being used for work. The company should reserve the right to review data on the device, be it a phone, tablet or laptop. Along with privacy the policy should also deal with access and security. The employee must safeguard company information and not allow others to use the device. You never know what a child may do sometime that would endanger data.
Not all the issues
These three issues are not the only ones involved with BYOD. I suggest you read Busy’s excellent article to discover more. These three however, make it clear that letting someone use their personal equipment is not just an issue of ease and saving money. Significant employee relations issues have to be dealt with prior to entering into such an arrangement. You may have many employees balking at the prospect of having their personal device wiped clean electronically by the company if they change jobs. So make sure there is an understanding and an alternative method that has been established.
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