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
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
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
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,
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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