BYOD: Don’t Forget About Your Employees

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So you’ve decided to implement a BYOD policy in the workplace.  After all, everyone seems to have one, so you might as well too.  You did your research, and your business is a good candidate for a BYOD policy.  You have enough employees to warrant a policy, because you’ve (possibly long ago) grown beyond the point where you personally know all of your employees.  Your employees use their smartphones and tablets to access work email.  Maybe they even use mobile devices to access information and documents on your company servers.

After you decided that a BYOD policy is a good idea, you put together a draft policy and probably had it reviewed by legal counsel, just to cover your bases.  You finalize the policy and email it out to your employees.  And the response isn’t quite what you expected, your employees are . . . perturbed (to put it mildly).

Sometimes, when we draft policies, whether they are BYOD or other policies, we forget to think about how it will affect the employees and how they might react.  In some instances, you will need to implement a policy that will upset employees, but in other cases, you can take employee response into consideration when drafting a policy.

Before you implement a BYOD policy (or maybe now that you’re giving it all a second thought) consider:

Remotely Wiping Mobile Devices

Most BYOD policies include a provision that informs the employee that the employer may remotely wipe an employee’s device if it is lost or stolen.  But maybe your BYOD polic doesn’t need to be so harsh.  Sure, there are certainly some businesses where the nature of the information accessed via mobile devices necessitates a remote wipe.  But some businesses can afford to be a little bit more lenient, and avoid wiping employee phones.  Think about it, your employee is going to be angry if you wiped his phone, which contained hundreds of family pictures he didn’t save, simply because he left it at a restaurant or misplaced it in his car for a few days.

Overdoing the Policy

At times, it is tempting to go overboard with policies, but that can cause more trouble than its worth at times.  After all, you can’t dictate every single aspect of your employees’ work lives, and attempting to do so will only anger employees.  Your BYOD policy should cover only what is necessary, and should be tailored to your business.  If your employees won’t have the ability to download documents from your network, there’s no reason for your BYOD policy to address such a situation.

Limiting Devices

It may be tempting to limit your BYOD policy to only one type of device (i.e., iPhone, Blackberry or Android), due to the increased ease in implementation.  However, such a limitation is sure to anger a certain segment of your employees.  Each mobile device company has its strong advocates, and your employees most likely don’t all use one type of mobile device.  In fact, you may have employees that use an iPhone with an Android tablet, or an Android phone and an iPad.  As I am sure you can imagine, if you implement a policy requiring all employees to use an iPhone, the employees that own Android or Blackberry devices will not be happy about needing to buy a new phone, and vice versa.  So think twice before you decide to limit the type of device, because the savings in implementation may not be worth the resulting employee “cost.”

So, before you implement a BYOD policy, or even if you have one already, make sure you consider how it will affect your employees.  While you may not always have a choice, it won’t hurt to make an effort to draft a policy that limit employee unhappiness.

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Casey Sipe

Casey is a management-side labor and employment attorney with Caldwell & Kearns in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he writes a labor and employment law blog, The Employer's Lawyer. He loves technology, social media, soccer and bow ties. Connect with Casey.


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