BYO Device to Work: A Few Things To Consider

| December 30, 2012

Did you know that over half of all Americans own a Smartphone and roughly a quarter of all Americans own a tablet computer?  It’s apparent that consumers are growing increasingly dependent on mobile handheld devices. Yet most companies haven’t outfitted their workforce with these gadgets, leading many to use personal devices at work. While this may make it easier to get the job done, there are some issues to consider, whether you’re a business owner or employee.

devices

Does Your Company Have a Written Policy

In an ideal situation, your company should have a written policy in place detailing expectations and procedures for using your personal device at work. These should include data and software control and ownership, as well as detail any liability you are exposing yourself to and what the company expects to happen to data or programs on your device at the end of your employment.

“Employees may not have a right to privacy in their electronic communications when using employer-provided devices, but they do have that right when using their own devices. The federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act  and state computer trespass laws criminalize some unauthorized access to another’s computer, and the federal Stored Communications Act protects the privacy of wire and electronic communications while in electronic storage (such as e-mails stored on a server).”  (Practical Law Company)

However, due to the rapid rise of popularity of these devices, many company’s human resources haven’t kept pace with technology. If you’re considering using your personal device at work and there isn’t a clear corporate policy in place, here’s what to keep in mind.

Consider the cost

Consider potential costs you may bear in order to make your gadget work compatible. Will your company reimburse you for software that you acquire for work use? If so, do you own the software or does it belong to the company? While your boss footing the bill for your tablet’s productivity programs may seem like a sweet deal, having to uninstall them and ditch any data you’ve used them to create at your employer’s behest will likely be a hassle.

In addition to data or cell usage fees, using your device on the job is sure to lead to additional wear and tear. Should your phone or tablet get damaged while using it for work, it’s unlikely your employer will cover its replacement.

What if you leave the company

Determine what you’ll be expected to provide upon termination of your employment. If your employer expects that all company-related data (such as emails, contacts or documents) be purged, be careful not to merge work files with personal. Look for applications that allow you to segregate your work files from your personal data or, better yet, utilize a cloud storage solution (there are many options, including Dropbox and Google Drive) and refrain from storing any work-related data on your device.

Protect Yourself

If you must store company data on your phone or tablet, be sure to protect yourself from potential liability should it be lost or stolen. Establish a login password to deter a passerby from gaining easy access to your device. Install a mobile security application such as Lookout Mobile Security (https://www.lookout.com/). For $2.99/month or $29.99/year, the premium version allows you to remotely pass code lock and/or wipes data should your gadget go missing. Apple device users should activate the free “Find My iPhone” or “Find My iPad” service in order to gain the remote lock and wipe functionality on their iOS gadgets.

Using your cell phone to communicate with clients can lead to muddy waters once those clients begin to call you directly on your cell (either because you provide them with the number or it appears on their caller-ID). Your employer may expect that any number provided to a client be forfeited upon termination. Protect yourself from hassle by blocking your number from appearing on outgoing calls. If you must have work clients call you back on your cell, consider setting up a voice over IP (VOIP) account that forwards to your cell using a service such as Google Voice Mobile (http://www.google.com/mobile/voice/, free) or Skype (www.skype.com, $4.99/month). You can use the account to call out as well, though using a 3rd party application to place calls on your cell can be a hassle.

Category: Opinion

Andrea Eldridge

About the Author ()

Andrea Eldridge is CEO and co-founder of Nerds On Call, an on-site computer and laptop repair service company for consumers and businesses. Andrea established the company with her husband, Ryan, from a spare room in their home in Redding, Calif., in March 2004. Andrea is the writer of two weekly columns, Nerd Chick Adventures in The Record Searchlight, and Computer Nerds On Call for the Scripps-Howard News Service. Contact Eldridge at www.callnerds.com/andrea.

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