A man showing his smartphone to another man.

Your BYOD policy can let your employees enjoy their new tech toys while improving productivity.

It seems new mobile devices are hitting the market every single day, touting exciting features and innovative advances your employees cannot get enough of. So, it’s probably no surprise when employees want to use their devices for work, whether it’s for convenience or efficiency. Tell them they have to leave their shiny new tablets at home, and you’ll likely have some unhappy campers. But allowing personal devices for business, without a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, may not be wise for your company.

There are definite productivity and cost benefits to allowing employees to use personal devices for work purposes. For example, when you have cloud-based communications that integrate mobile devices with the office phone system, employees can be productive wherever they’re working, or even off-hours, and maintain a consistent business presence.

To make everything go smoothly and keep your network safe with BYOD, a wise approach is to have a detailed BYOD policy for your employees to follow. Here are five important topics that you should cover in your BYOD policy:

1. Require All Employees to Keep Devices Updated

Bugs happen. However, with cloud technology, companies can quickly release new versions that fix the problems. To keep your employees productive on their mobile devices, make sure that everyone installs all updates to their mobile devices for both apps and operating systems.

2. All Devices Must Be Password-Protected

We all do it: leaving a phone on a restaurant table or, worse, in an airport. Because of this, it is essential that all employees accessing company files, networks, and applications have a password they change regularly on all devices.

3. Set Up a Process to Remotely Access Company Data

Sometimes you’re lucky and the phone is still on the table. Other times, not so much. Passwords provide a basic level of protection, but when the network administrator of the phone system has the ability to remotely access company data, you can have additional peace of mind that the data is kept safe.

4. Communicate What’s Allowed During Business Hours

Okay, so it’s possible that your employees have some web-surfing habits that aren’t work-appropriate. That gets tricky if the devices are their own and they want to use social media or other personal apps while in the office. Since Twitter has professional applications, it’s probably fine; Reddit, on the other hand, is most likely not work-related. The best approach is to designate that NSFW material cannot be viewed on devices at work — and hopefully everyone agrees what “not safe for work” means.

5. Consider MDM

A big BYOD challenge is maintaining privacy between company data and personal information. By using mobile device management (MDM) technology, a wall separates the two on the employee’s devices, and the company can only access the work portion. MDM also gives the employee privacy from the company accessing personal data.

By being proactive and having a clear BYOD policy, your network and employees will both be happy.

Visit Vonage Business and connect with a representative to learn how employee-owned devices can integrate with a cloud-based business communication system.

About Jennifer Goforth Gregory

Jennifer Goforth Gregory is a technology freelance writer specializing in B2B and telecommunications topics. She has written for national brands including IBM, Samsung, ADTRAN, Adobe, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Verizon, Costco and American Express. One of her superpowers is being able to translate technical speak from the experts that make products work into language everyone else can understand. Jennifer has a master’s degree in technical communication and lives in North Carolina with her husband and two kids.

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A woman sitting at her desk, speaking on her mobile phone.

Your BYOD policy may be outdated. It’s time to take new look at it for the new year.

Out with the old, and in with the new — 2017 is here, and it’s the perfect time to reassess current policies, see what’s working, and ditch what isn’t making the cut. Consider the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement. For the better part of a decade, this has been a tech industry buzzword that prompted a personal device revolution in the workplace.

But the BYOD policy landscape simply isn’t the same as it was five years ago or even during 2016. Bottom line? It’s time for a fresh start.

Here are three BYOD rules to retire in 2017:

1. My Way or the Highway

Mobile devices are everywhere. They’re so prevalent, in fact, that manufacturers are now taking the user out of the equation to create wireless Internet of Things (IoT) networks that can collect, store, and even analyze vast amounts of data. What does this mean for your company? As noted by Enterprise Apps Tech News, the “if it’s not there, it doesn’t exist” tactic remains a common approach for companies and IT departments not sold on a BYOD future.

Spoiler alert: This doesn’t work. Guess what happens? That’s right, shadow IT. Users connect with the devices of their choice, regardless of what IT permits or restricts. As a result, this is the first policy you need to ditch in 2017: My way or the highway can quickly strand companies on the side of the digital road wondering how competitors got so fast.

2. Quiet, You!

Another policy for you to consider tossing? Limits on how and when staff can use personal devices for business or corporate devices for personal things. It sounds unfair, right? Why should you have to bear the brunt of this responsibility? Well, because it’s 2017, and people enjoy working on devices they like and are familiar with. Sure, you could tell staff they can only make work calls from personal devices during work hours or to switch off their corporate-issued smartphone when they’re not in the office, but the chances of these rules actually being followed are slim.

Of course, you might point to a lack of mobile and traditional integration — if your mobile provider doesn’t play nice with existing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) trunking services, you could be looking at big bills just to let users call on whatever phone floats their boat. The solution? Opt for integration. Choose a cloud-based solution that merges mobile devices with traditional business phone systems to provide unified access. Everyone comes out a winner. You get to toss bad policies, and users get to call on the devices of their choice (which, let’s face it, they were going to do anyway).

3. Meager App-ettite

Do you want increased productivity from mobile employees? Of course you do. So, here’s the thing: You need them to shelve the “approved apps-only” BYOD policy that seemed like a great idea three years ago. Sure, it worked back then, when employees and employers alike were just starting to figure out how BYOD could drive revenue instead of driving up costs for the sake of convenience, but it no longer holds the same value. According to Networks Asia, the emergence of “digital natives” and “citizen developers” has empowered an era of personal mobile choice. Users don’t want IT to dictate the apps and services they should be using. Instead, they want the ability to pick and choose solutions that work for them and meet current project demands.

By locking down app selection, IT departments create new organizational problems that prompt workers to circumvent the rules for the sake of expedience. However, by tossing bad policies and opening a dialogue with employees about what they want, how they want it, and how it empowers their work, it’s possible to proactively streamline your BYOD network rather than struggle to catch up with increasingly tech-savvy employees.

The New Year has arrived, and it’s time for a BYOD policy shakedown. Toss device demands, lose the call restrictions, and empower employee choice to maximize ROI.

For more tips on updating your BYOD policy for the new year, contact a Vonage Business consultant.

About Doug Bonderud

Doug Bonderud is an award-winning freelance writer with a passion for technology and innovation. His ability to create compelling, thought-provoking and timely content helps empower the voice of corporate vision. From UCaaS to VoIP to cloud computing, Doug has experience covering all aspects of evolving digital environments and their effects on both people and policies.

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