Business owners have a lot to consider when it comes to the management of bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies – gone are the days of these policies being popular like they were for their first 12 years of their existence, and here are the days of different priorities in 2023.
When BYOD policies were first launched, they became popular and remained mainstream practice for over a decade as they were viewed as being an inexpensive alternative for businesses. Nowadays, though, there is debate over BYOD still being a smart choice for companies as the corporate focus has shifted to the preservation of mobile endpoints and the welfare of employees.
What exactly Is BYOD?
BYOD is the practice of enabling employees to use their personal devices, such as laptops and mobile phones, for work purposes and during work hours. Work-related activities that are allowed on personal devices include checking and responding to emails, accessing the company network, and using business data and apps.
As staff use their own laptops and mobile phones for work-based tasks, the company doesn’t hand out devices to employees that are owned by the business and maintained by the IT department. In terms of benefits, businesses usually sell it to staff as allowing them to view their personal emails and messages whilst at work and without the need to have two devices on them. The company gains from improved access to and communication with staff as they can be contacted more easily outside of work.
First introduced in the business heart of America as part of the always-on culture of the times ten years ago, BYOD was meant to simplify company efficiency and increase output. As employees would already be familiar with their devices, they’d be able to navigate more quickly and understand their capabilities more effectively. This would result in tasks being completed more quickly and removing the need for laptop and mobile phone training.
What’s wrong with BYOD in the 2023 workplace?
Processing the bills of personal devices used for work-related tasks is complicated.
If you choose to pay your employers' device bills, deciphering what's personal and what's business use is tricky. Calculating the amount can cause disagreements with staff and lead to ill feelings towards the company. Furthermore, any reimbursement of money spent is seen as income and is taxable. Tax-related issues apply equally if the business opts to provide an allowance to staff instead, as this amount is seen as income and subject to tax too.
Marginal cost savings
Implementing BYOD policies costs around the same as implementing a managed laptop and phone policy – and sometimes BYOD costs more – so the money-saving potential for business owners no longer exists.
Using non-business devices introduces extra risks to the company in the form of internet attacks, leaks, or hacks. Businesses want to make sure their security is managed as effectively as possible, especially their mobile endpoints, which can be secured better through an IT team rather than by securing personal devices.
BYOD is starting to look outdated in the modern workplace, as is the always-on culture popular a decade ago. Thought by many to be a factor in the quiet quitting practice of recent times, BYOD is losing its grip on business owners as employees demand to be able to switch off when they leave work rather than being permanently available.
Whereas BYOD policies were sold at first as enabling staff to achieve a better work/life balance thanks to being able to view and use personal data whilst at work, nowadays, people value switch-off time at home. If work-related communications can interrupt leisure time through staff's devices, employees can't take quality time away from work – and the ability to separate home and work life and switch off when not in the office is highly valued in 2023.
How should businesses manage BYOD policies in 2023?
Whilst there are some individuals, such as contractors and those in senior management roles, who still benefit from the adoption of BYOD, companies should exercise caution when it comes to BYOD policies due to the potential downsides of tax issues for employees, minimal business savings, staff upset, and increased security risks.
Unlike ten years ago, when it was seen as a good alternative for business owners, BYOD offers few benefits to modern businesses.
Owen Keenan-Lindsey is the CEO of Assimilated International.