2020 has been the year of remote working. The global pandemic has thrust the concept of working remotely into the limelight and accelerated the slow but steady adoption of arrangements that allow employees to work flexibly from any location.
While most countries have experienced some return to normality recently (including the UK and South Africa), many businesses and employees are keen to retain remote working in some capacity, and take advantage of the benefits the practice can bring. With proper planning and sufficient investment in the best solutions, remote working can have various benefits to both employees and employers alike, such as:
- Improved Work-life balance – work can fit around family life.
- Lower rates of absence
- Increased productivity
- Reduced requirement for desk space, resulting in reduced overheads.
- Lengthy and costly commutes are eliminated
An introduction to Enterprise mobility
‘Enterprise mobility’ is the practice of allowing employees to work from any location using one or several devices which are usually portable in nature – mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. The concept is not new, in fact, the practice of allowing employees to work remotely has been slowly increasing throughout the 21st century.
An ‘Enterprise Mobility Strategy’ is an approach to the provision of remote working devices that balances concerns such as data security with the need to enable and empower employees to work as effectively as possible.
So, the main question is…should you provide your staff with devices or let them use their own?
The answer to this question will depend on several factors such as your IT budget and the level of oversight you might need. If you operate in a more highly regulated sector such as finance or healthcare your need to rigorously manage and maintain device security will be greater than most. Alternatively, if your employees don’t regularly handle the sensitive personal information you may feel confident allowing the use of personal devices for work purposes. Let’s take a closer look at the most common approaches to Enterprise Mobility.
Bring your own device (BYOD)
Stats vary, but almost all point to BYOD being by far the most common enterprise mobility strategy, with many companies permitting the use of personal devices in some form. BYOD is, as the name suggests, the practice of allowing staff to use their own devices for work purposes.
- Happy, productive employees. Because employees are working on a device with which they’re already familiar, your team won’t have to spend time getting to grips with a new piece of tech. Additionally, personally owned devices are often higher-performing, more up-date and more sophisticated than corporate devices, and as a result, such devices can enable employees to work more efficiently.
- One device for everything. A work-enabled, personal device means staff can conduct both work and personal activities on a single device, avoiding the need to carry multiple devices for separate purposes.
- It’s the least costly option. In most instances, a BYOD strategy represents the low-cost route to enterprise mobility. In most cases the employer completely avoids device purchase costs, resulting in potentially huge savings. A BYOD strategy can also lessen your IT department’s workload if the responsibility for device maintenance lies primarily at the employee level.
- Data security concerns. Ensuring data security and monitoring devices for security threats is potentially more of a challenge under a BYOD scheme. There are steps you can take, such as using mobile device management or requiring staff to hand devices over to your IT team periodically for to ensure security settings are correctly configured and patch management is being carried out. However, such steps may be met with resistance if employees feel uncomfortable relinquishing control of a device, they themselves own and which contains their personal data. Compared to other enterprise mobility strategies, employers usually must accept that BYOD means diminished oversight.
- Compatibility issues can arise. The devices your employees own may not be compatible with all or some of the software and services your business uses. This can be a particular issue if you use niche software. Additionally, you may find that functionality may be impaired by device limitations.
- Support issues. Your IT team will have more of a challenge on their hands trying to provide support for a large range of devices potentially operating several different operating systems.
Make BYOD work, with a well-thought-out BYOD policy
A BYOD policy is an essential component of any BYOD strategy. It sets out the responsibilities of both parties (employers and employees) in relation to the use of employee-owned devices in a way that respects both corporate and individual interests. Here are some things you might want to include in your BYOD policy:
- The Individual’s responsibilities. Be clear on the costs that you expect the user to bear. Specify mandatory security settings, outline expectations regarding ‘acceptable use’ etc.
- Device management/support requirements. Be forthcoming about the degree of access your IT team may need to personal devices. If you require employees to enrol devices on MDM (mobile device management) or MAM (mobile application management) then you should specify this in the BYOD policy.
- Stipulate approved devices. Compatibility issues may force you to exclude certain devices from your BYOD scheme.
- Distinguish ‘corporate’ from ‘personal.’ Define the boundaries between your business’ data and data belonging to the individual. Set out clear, unequivocal boundaries for the safe handling of corporate data and explain what steps will be taken if company data must be wiped from the device and how this could affect personal data.
- Include an app ‘blacklist’ Mobile application is a common route of entry for malware onto mobile devices. Compile a list of prohibited applications to protect data handled through personal devices.
Choose your own device (CYOD)
This strategy typically involves employees choosing a device from a list, this device is then purchased and provided to the employee while corporate control and device management is maintained. It’s often viewed as an appealing option which respects the interest of both parties, however, providing new devices in this way can be very costly.
Corporately Owned, Business Only (COBO)
This strategy involves the provision of a business-owned and managed device that is strictly set-up to perform business functions only. This could in theory mean severe functionality restrictions imposed such as web access blocked, or only a handful of role-specific apps configured. This option is suitable for the handling of extremely sensitive data or where strict regulatory compliance must be enforced.
Corporately Owned, Personally Enabled (COPE)
Somewhat like CYOD although COPE normally involves a more restricted list of device options. While COPE-supplied devices are heavily managed by the employer they are permitted for personal use as well as for work purposes. This makes a COPE strategy a popular choice for the provision of mobile phones so that employees aren’t required to carry multiple devices for work and personal use.
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