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To BYOD or not to BYOD, that is the question

The concept of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) is nothing new – since mobiles came on the scene in the mid-90s, most of us have been juggling our work lives between devices.

Indeed, the UK has now been declared a smartphone society by Ofcom and the advent of this highly digitised period has brought a new dimension to our workplace communications.

In our work lives too, we’re increasingly dependent on mobile to complete corporate tasks, particularly for field-based workers who travel around the country.

Here are two simple benefits of mobile strategy:

1. Staying in the loop – when it is most crucial. We’re moving beyond the 9 to 5 society and increasingly, important business decisions are made while on the move. Take the sales executive, for example. Where once field work meant that it might be a whole day before the executive was able to access Salesforce via VPN on their laptop, with the right mobile access they can complete their activity on the go via their chosen device.

2. Ensuring workers have a good work/life balance. It is well documented that a happier workforce means more productive people, better customer service, business growth, less employee churn and fewer sick days – so businesses should be doing all they can to ensure their workers are able to complete work-related tasks inside working day hours.

So there’s no doubt that mobile is the way forward to ensure a modern, happy, productive workforce. Or is it?

While mobile is clearly a dimension ripe with opportunities, it also comes with risks that the business must acknowledge before sending employees off with device in hand. The independence brought about by BYOD allows employees to ignore traditional enterprise regulation operations which are put in place for a reason, something many employees often forget. Companies can work out how to put into place new regulations for the new BYOD model that are effective, but not overly intrusive. This will save much time and resources that may once have been spent on over-bearing management strategies.

Just bearing a few of the following in mind could reap huge rewards in the long term for remote workers and the non-9 to 5 workforce:

Protect your data: Security is increasingly a concern in the IT sphere. With data leaks and hacking incidents hitting the headlines on a daily basis, of course, businesses are starting to be seriously concerned about the data their employees carry around in their pockets. This will only increase as devices like wearables begin to permeate the business world. It is, therefore, crucial that data is properly secured and that internal policies on the prevention of data leaks are used as a guideline for employees.

Invest in training: Companies who invest in mobile devices need to also invest in the people who will be using them. Employees need to appreciate the risks of improper use of mobile devices. Training is essential to keep your employees up to speed on your mobile efforts, including security measures. One way in which this is done effectively is when companies deploy mobile as part of a wider business transformation programme, focused on employee productivity and the value to the employee of being able to work securely from anywhere.

Consider MDM: Mobile Data Management software can be useful for helping you manage and organise all the information on your employees’ devices. MDM enables employers to automate the management of their employees’ company-provided mobile devices and assign policies in line with corporate requirements. It also allows employees that wish to use their personal devices to engage with their digital workplace in the way that is most comfortable for them. To do this, they would need an ‘opt in’ and would need to agree that data on that device may have to be wiped if the device is lost or stolen. The upside, however, is that MDM platforms can contain workplace applications and ensure productivity via a device of the employee’s choosing.

Keep an eye out for external apps: Consumer apps can be incredibly useful for workplace collaboration, even more so now that they can be integrated with unified communications (UC) to ensure a seamless experience. For employers, a balance needs to be found between allowing their employees to use the apps they feel most comfortable with and a free-for-all where the management of the mobile workforce system becomes at risk and vulnerable. The best way to manage this is by having a clear policy, which is constantly reviewed to accommodate the changing environment, and implementing it across the entire organisation.

There are many benefits to enabling a more mobilised workforce, including delivering a higher degree of productivity to workers who are mostly working out of the office in a sales or service-type role. What companies need to consider is how they manage this opportunity to maximise productivity and minimise risk.

Adrian Hipkiss, MD EMEA at ShoreTel

Image source: Shutterstock/Pixsooz

Adrian Hipkiss
Adrian joined ShoreTel in October 2011. He brings with him more than 26 years of experience in the communications sector and is responsible for the go-to-market strategy for ShoreTel’s solutions.