One of the new trends in the business world is allowing, or even encouraging, employees to use their personal tech devices for professional purposes. The bring-your-own-device movement, most commonly referred to as BYOD, can open up more flexibility and mobility to your colleagues. Especially for customer-facing teams, a BYOD approach can also open up new levels of service and support.
But what’s the flip side to those benefits? BYOD does require some background research and smart implementation in order to be effective — both for your employees and your customers. Here’s what you need to know about this blending of personal and corporate technology.
The Benefits of BYOD
There are some notable perks to allowing your employees to use their own devices for work. First is the familiarity angle. More and more people are closely attuned to their smartphones and tablets, so they’re already comfortable with the system. Team members won’t have questions about how to use a new operating system or get frustrated by new hardware, meaning they can be more productive. Another benefit is financial. Supplying your entire team with the latest mobile devices is an expensive prospect, and it can help businesses trim their expenses by getting rid of the old “company computer” approach.
Beyond the benefits to the bottom line, one of the best reasons to let your team use their personal devices for work is that those gadgets go everywhere with us. If you have a job that includes round-the-clock responsibilities, such as customer service, then it’s a simpler process to get those tasks done on the gadgets that you’ve already got in your back pocket. BYOD allows a previously unthinkable degree of responsiveness to the needs of your clients.
Imagine one of your customers has a complaint and posts angrily about it on Twitter. Your social media manager, skimming feeds on his or her phone during lunch, will see that post. A quick response can be issued to the unhappy customer and a notification sent to someone on the support staff. Even if the support person is out at a doctor’s appointment, he or she will get the email notification and set a solution in motion before getting back to the office. Your customer gets a fast resolution even though none of the people who solved the problem were in the same place.
That’s the level of support your customers will come to expect as mobile tools get more powerful. The better you can make your clients feel, the more likely they are to stick with your brand for the long term.
Protect Your Business
There are a couple of major topics to address across your company if you decide to encourage BYOD. For example, When your individual employees get control over their own tech, then it’s challenging to ensure that everybody is taking security as seriously as you need them too. Especially when they might be storing sensitive files or customer data on their phones or tablets, you need to have rules in place to protect that information.
You can start at a basic level, encouraging all employees to use their devices’ built-in security features, such as an unlock code and device tracking systems. This will help protect against the gadget if it’s lost or stolen.
For day-to-day use of personal devices, one solution is to use a small set of tools across your entire team. Ideally, picking business-centric tools will mean a lower chance that people on your team will be using the same software for their personal use. If there’s less crossover, that means less risk of sending a sensitive email to the wrong person or posting private information on a public forum. Picking programs that work across any operating systems will take care of any compatibility issues.
Finally, if you want to ensure a consistent level of security across all devices, consider setting some minimum requirements for employees to go the BYOD route. If they’re using an early generation smartphone, that may come with its own set of problems. For starters, an older platform may not support your software of choice, and it probably doesn’t have as advanced security systems as the newer ones do. Older gadgets are often slow, and your staff can’t deliver their best customer support if they’re waiting for an hour just to get an email loaded.
Get the advice of your IT experts to determine what is an acceptable personal device for work use. Make sure you think about the long term in setting requirements, because the tech industry is likely to keep innovating at a lightning pace. You don’t want to be revisiting these rules every six months.
Protect Your Team
Just as any BYOD policy should protect your brand’s interests, make sure that it also doesn’t place unnecessary burdens on your staff members. If they are wired into their work computers at all times, that can pressure them into being on-point 24-hours-a-day. Delivering high-quality support to your customers is important, but demanding that your whole team work in the wee hours or on weekends will burn them out fast. Make sure the service team understands the company’s expectations for when they should be available to customers.
Hold employee training sessions that explain why you’ve gone the BYOD route. Get everybody on board so that they can use your security protocols and know what procedures to follow. You’ll want to make sure that your IT team is ready to tackle any questions that employees might have. It’s particularly important that your internal tech experts understand the ins-and-outs of what your team will be doing so that they can both troubleshoot problems and protect everybody as these needs arise.