BYOD: Friend or Foe of HR?

BYOD Comes to WorkBYOB, or “bring your own booze,” began as a marketing ploy for small restaurants in the 1970s. These establishments were piggybacking on the hip, new trend of drinking wine with supper and were allowing patrons to bring their own bottles to get around paying the exorbitant fee for a liquor license. So we have the baby boomers to thank for college’s favorite acronym. Today, a similar philosophy of self-sufficiency is sweeping through America’s workplaces: “bring your own device,” or BYOD.

Advantages and Challenges of Open Technology Policies

BYOD is less of a trend than a new modus operandi, as 75 percent of companies already embrace the concept. Employers and employees alike report increased efficiency, streamlined work-life balance, and higher levels of overall satisfaction. Onboarding costs are also lower for new employees, as is the required budget for hardware expenses for remote workers. And God only knows how much money will be saved avoiding some major training costs.

Yet, although BYOD will surely bring about less hassle long-term, some companies are still working to overcome temporary, short-term hurdles. One of the major BYOD challenges current-ly facing HRIS, for example, is managing security concerns.

Creating a melting pot of different devices and operating systems initially complicates the job of an IT department. But aside from compatibility issues, personal devices also require the imple-mentation of new security protocols.

For example, password requirements for sensitive information can be harder to enforce. It is also difficult to regulate who sees and uses an employee’s personal device, especially if employees are able to take data off the device to be used on other, nonsecure devices like their cell phones or a cloud-based service like Dropbox. Additionally, use of personal devices over open WiFi networks makes them susceptible to hackers, and it is easier to target an individual computer than a company-wide network. That is why measures like encryptions and firewalls are so important.

It’s tempting to make a reference to the vulnerability of emails as another example, but we’ll leave politics out of this.

Questions for Your HRIS Provider and IT Manager

Some other questions HRIS providers may need to address include:

  • What happens if an employee loses his or her personal device?
  • When an employee leaves or is terminated, how can the company enforce a full reset of the device he or she used to access sensitive information?
  • What is the best way to consolidate private data and work data under one privacy protocol?
  • How can IT activate an emergency failsafe, and what exactly constitutes an emergency?

In addition to security, a diverse range of mobile device options also poses a challenge to accessibility. Now that people spend most of their online time on mobile devices, the design of HRIS user interfaces must be compatible across tablets and smartphones in addition to desktops. It must also provide the user with a similar experience across these different channels.

Experts agree that certain safeguards need to be in place to protect the integrity of sensitive da-ta itself, therefore mitigating the risks of personal devices altogether. Part of this involves con-firming the identity of the user before he or she is given access. In any case, the keys to effective transition to BYOD are clear policies and education. By encouraging responsible use and enforcing crucial rules, companies can best prepare themselves for the new standard.

BYOD is taking the business world by storm. Before you jump on board, talk to your HRIS provider about how to handle BYOD security and setup. If you’re ready for a new system, consider the software’s ability to handle a broad range of devices and operating systems to ensure a smooth transition.

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