Article (December-2018)


Bring your own device : Implications for HR

Yasmin Soni

Designation : -   Research Scholar, School of Management and Labour Studies

Organization : -  Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai


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Millennials must be well acquainted with the term BYOB : Bring your own booze/beer, which means the guest has to bring their own liquor. Such acronym attached to the invitation often assuage a host from his/her responsibilities. Now a day's organisation too want to share their responsibilities along with the profits, new fad often termed as Bring your own device (BYOD) provides employees with the opportunity to bring their own device, including smart phones, tablets, or laptops at the workplace. More than a fad, It's the need of the hour with the demand of flexible working conditions and employees working remotely. IBM is allowing employees to bring their own device to work due to the perceived productivity gains and cost saving. BYOD is a coin with its pros and cons as its two sides. There are lots of advantages into framing policies around BYOD but its not devoid of its limitations.
Industry is facing lots of security issues squabbling over sensitive data, initially it seems that only IT department will have its stake in managing these issues but Human Resource department is not devoid of its implications. To the core of BYOD, it's all about employees.
There are lots of perks welcoming employees cladding their own device, recent research by CISCO shows 95% of the respondents agreed on either already supporting BYOD or were at least considered supporting it. Another study by Enterprise CIO reports an increase of 16% in employee's productivity over a period of 40-hour week. Some advantages call for a fall in the investment of fixed assets. Organisation do not need to invest in buying the devices, they still need to invest in the sound IT department, but on the counter can enjoy a cut on the foot large portions of bill. Many a times organisational technology is outdated as compared to employee's personal technology, and it's a task to work with millennials and redundant technology. For e.g. if an employee uses his mac book at work, there are high chances to end up with faster and smoother work. Such initiative makes employees happier and instil a feeling of trustworthiness.
The dark side of this policy talks about various issues including but not limited to security of the company's data, security of employee's personal data, organisations control over the personal device, expense reimbursement and many more. At a glance BYOD looks like a policy concerning to the IT department but human resources department working side by side can lend fruitful results for the organisation.
The broader objective of the human resources department is to align the individual with the organisation, it's through HR that the individual gets acquainted with the organisational practices, the same department would issue them their standard company devices. In case of BYOD, it's the human resource manager who has to frame policies around the behavioural aspect to absorb the new intervention smoothly. HR manager can work around following points to ensure an effective implementation of BYOD policies,
a) Imparting educationĀ 
Employees need to have an orientation session to understand the policy and all the security concerns around them. There is a partial shift in the ownership of the device and it's important for managers to handle their trust and liability issue tactfully. A personal device may be used unknowingly for surfing some consumer website that does not provide high end security, an orientation session could also include imparting knowledge about such fraudulent sites that the employees should avoid. Basic knowledge about device enablement and user's responsibility can be imparted by HR. It is believed by the corporate leaders that more the employees are educated on the risks, more is the possibility of them taking better care of their device.
b) Demarcating personal and professional data
HR department needs to draw a fine line between personal and professional data, policies are to be framed to ensure safe retention of personal data in case the devise is lost or stolen. They should create a regulation to restrict employees from jail breaking their device and installed unapproved changes. All the rules and regulations regarding BYOD are to be well communicated in the handbook; it should be made clear at the start whether their personal data is prone to risk if there is any threat to the device.
c) Training
HR can organise training programs in collaboration with the IT regarding the security measures to be taken in case there inĀ  any attempt for breach of information, employees must be aware about the reporting authority in case of any attempted breach. Employees can be train to use their device efficiently and how to access internal networks and data. Employees must be trained to identify malicious websites and emails and to report it timely, along with that employees must be encouraged to change their passwords timely.
d) Periodic audits
Once the policy is successfully implemented, its quintessential to keep a record of day to day activities to trap a deviation at its root. HR should be conducting periodic audits to ensure that the employees are well aware of and bound to employers' rules.
BYOD is definitely more than a fad and if resources are invested at the right time, it can give a cutting edge to the organisation in the competitive market, it will help to attract the right talent who wants to work on flexible terms. But it is important to understand that it's not the task of one department. On the contrary it's a collaborative work or various departments including IT, Human resource, Legal, finance, corporate communications. A planned implementation with the involvement and consideration of each and every resource can extract fruitful results.