How the Need for a B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device) Policy Can Make Human Resources BEGIN to YEARN for the OLDEN DAYS

How the Need for a B.Y.O.D. (Bring Your Own Device) Policy Can Make Human Resources BEGIN to YEARN for the OLDEN DAYS

by Mario R. Bordogna

Human resources used to be so much simpler than it is today. In the olden days, most HR professionals just worried about which payroll deductions to withhold, how to keep track of vacation, and whether there was an attendance problem in the workplace.  Now, all the key issues in HR are bigger and more complicated, with a lot at stake.  Are your employees properly classified as exempt or non-exempt?  Is there any way on earth to avoid a retaliation claim?  How do I control what my employees are saying about the company on Facebook? 

Like other aspects of society, the workplace and the legal issues surrounding it have advanced over time.  Of course, much of this is due to technology.  With the massive proliferation of the Web 2.0, social media, and smartphones, most employees are connected 24 hours a day/7 days a week/365 days a year, and if they aren't, they want to be.  This has led many employers to come up with policies which permit employees to bring their own smartphone to work to use for company business.  Thus, the acronym B.Y.O.D (Bring Your Own Device). 

This approach is still relatively new in many workplaces because technology is always ahead of how quickly employers can do anything with it.  It's also slow to be used thus far because the cost/benefit analysis in adopting such a policy is complex.  Deciding to move to a B.Y.O.D. workplace is not a one-size-fits-every-employer concept. 

Employers must consider many variables when deciding whether to adopt a B.Y.O.D policy.  Probably the biggest con of adopting such a policy is how to manage concerns about proprietary information being spread beyond what's appropriate.  For instance, if an employee uses a smartphone for work and can download client lists or other confidential information, what happens if that employee loses the phone, or it's lost or stolen?  Privacy is a huge factor when considering adopting such a policy.

Another con is the up-front cost/coordination it may take with your IT department and legal team.  Those folks may have to develop and/or implement additional security measures and protocols to manage the use of employee time and - as set forth above - the protection of employer data/information.  And speaking of employee time, a B.Y.O.D. policy makes it even more critical to keep good track of what hours employees are working when they aren't actually at the office. 

On the positive side, allowing employees to B.Y.O.D. to work can certainly result in increased efficiency.  Depending on the workforce you have, employees may be able to do more for you in less time. 

Additionally, adopting a B.Y.O.D. policy can be a key component to a strategy for progressive change for some employers.  It can help attract good employee talent and transform the way business is done.  Moreover, depending on your industry, it can provide new and easier ways for your employees to network, build a brand, or conduct and market your products and services.

If you decide to adopt a B.Y.O.D. culture in your workplace, having a policy which governs the use of those devices is crucial.  Here are the key components of any such policy: 

-          Define what acceptable use of the device is, and when that use is acceptable;

-          Describe the type and kind of devices which can be used;

-          Address what kind of reimbursement for device or service will be provided;

-          Adopt appropriate security provisions, both device-specific and network-specific;

-          Establish protocols for what happens if the device is lost or stolen, including the possibility of remotely wiping the device clean;

-          Clarify the privacy employees have in using the device to access your network, like with any employee use of company electronic equipment;

-          Link the employee's use of his/her own device to compliance with your other employment policies/work rules, like those on harassment, etc.; and,

-          A statement of intent to discipline for non-compliance.

Again, a B.Y.O.D. policy is not right for every employer.  In fact, for many employers, the thought of this concept makes them want to turn back the clock a few decades.  However, if you do adopt one, strongly consider the components set forth above.  And, it wouldn't be a bad idea to seek competent legal assistance in the process, either.

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