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In case you missed it: What BYOD means for the modern workplace from The Innovation Room at New England College of Business

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is a trend born as a result of employees using their own PCs at home to do office work. Starting in about 2000, this trend has seen a surge in popularity. Today, estimates of the number of employees who bring their own devices to work range from 39 percent to as high as 75 percent. The 2015 MobileIron Trust Gap Survey found that 86 percent of mobile workers own the smartphone they use for work.

Yet, BYOD as a practice is complicated and often misunderstood. As with any evolving trend, best practices, rules and guidelines vary greatly. And more and more, employers are requiring those who participate in BYOD to sign a contract.

At New England College of Business's September Innovation Room session, I presented on the BYOD trend with my Master of Human Resource Management Program Chair Carla Patalano.

Here are some of the highlights, including important things for all employees to keep in mind before they sign a BYOD contract:

Benefits of BYOD:

  • By being able to easily access information on your devices at home and at work, communication and collaboration can increase.
  • BYOD gives employees the choice to work with technology that they are most comfortable with (iPhone or Android).
  • Most companies offer reimbursement for phones and/or phone plans, with the average payment being around $70 per month. This can range from flat stipends to paying a certain percentage of an employee's phone bill. They may even be willing to make payments for mobile devices directly to an employee's cell phone provider.

What to consider before signing a BYOD contract:

  • Being constantly connected can lead to employee burnout.
  • Even if employees are allowed to use the device of their choosing, they may be limited in terms of support if the company's IT department isn't experienced with that particular device.
  • Beware of privacy issues involved: Mobile Device Management software (MDM) can allow companies to remotely control, view, and wipe data on their employees' phones. MDM can even install apps and allow for GPS tracking.
  • If an employer requires a signed BYOD contract, MDM software could enable an employer to wipe an employee's phone, which would delete all photos, contacts, text messages, music and all other files when the tenure at the organization ends.
  • There are potential tax consequences for BYOD benefits. The IRS bases taxes on a number of factors, such as how extravagant reimbursement is, if it doesn't fall into certain criterion, and how the phone bill is processed by the accounts payable department.

Rethinking using a personal device at work? Before doing so, consider these approaches to help avoid the downsides of BYOD:

  • Read the BYOD contract carefully. Ask HR or IT for clarification on any items, in writing, that aren't clear.
  • Set and communicate boundaries. For example, it is acceptable for an employee to say, "Do not call after 11 p.m. if it is not an emergency."
  • Separate files: save company files to the company cloud to keep the organization's information off a personal device; and sync all personal files to a personal account such as Dropbox.
  • Avoid tapping into unsecure networks, and only trust Wi-Fi networks with passcodes personal security as well as the company's.

What does the future hold?

HR professionals are always trying to anticipate changes that could impact the working world. BYOD is bound to change as employers adapt to the needs of millennials and an "always on" environment. And as the practices surrounding BYOD evolve, there could be further regulations around this trend.

Does your company have a BYOD policy? Share your experiences and best practices with us! Follow us on Facebook, network with us on LinkedIn or join the conversation with @NECBedu on Twitter! You can also keep up with New England College of Business on Instagram.

View this and other full-length Innovation Room sessions on YouTube. Have questions? Connect with me on LinkedIn to discuss this presentation.

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