So, employers are encouraging employees to Bring Your Own Bottle to work; hang on, no, that’s not right. It’s BYOD, Bring Your Own Device to work.
Essentially this involves employees using their own personal devices such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets for work purposes.
This can be attractive to the employer as it can improve employee job satisfaction and morale, as well as improving efficiency by enabling employees to work flexibility and remotely. Whilst the potential benefits to an employer are obvious, what are the risks?
Firstly, an employer should be aware of their duties under the Data Protection Act. Where an employee uses their own device for work purposes, this may involve them holding personal data about your clients on their device. The data controller, i.e. YOU, remains responsible for complying with the law in relation to the processing of such data, despite this data being held on the employee’s personal device. Recent high profile leaking of celebrity images has demonstrated the risk of ‘private’ information being exposed and exploited. Steps therefore should be taken to ensure that no information is intentionally or otherwise uploaded to a shared forum which could reveal confidential company information.
Employers looking to take advantage of the BYOD trend are advised to implement a BYOD policy which gives them power to legitimately monitor the devices for security reasons but which does not infringe on an employee’s reasonable right to an expectation of privacy on what is, after all, their own device. Whilst management will want to ensure that they have control over business data on the device, employees may, understandably, object to an employer having significant control over their personal phone or laptop.
A good robust policy arrived at with employee input will leave employees in no doubt as to what their rights and responsibilities are regarding use of their device for work purposes, and the extent and purpose of monitoring should be clearly defined. Used effectively, this will allow employees to work flexibly and efficiently to help ensure your business needs are met.
That said, a badly drafted policy with too many restrictions on what an employee can and cannot do with their own device can have the adverse impact on flexibility and productivity and employees may ‘switch off’ and be less inclined to want to use their device for work purposes. Moreover, an overly restrictive policy may impact usability, and result in staff finding ways around the restrictions imposed which therefore compromise your security.
Contact your Legal Manager to discuss further how to draft and implement a robust BYOD policy.