The new guy sitting at the small business conference table is Bring Your Own Device (or BYOD for short—a concept similar t
o BYOB, but not nearly as much fun). One thing about BYOD you should take note of: he’s not going away.
By 2020, it’s expected that 60% of employees will use BYOD, a policy where company employees use their “personal” smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices for work purposes (IT ProPortal). The concept is economical and convenient for both employer and employee. After all, why invest in technology that people already have?
At first pass, BYOD for small business is a win-win. Take another look though, and the topic gets a bit murky thanks to eyebrow-raising changes emerging in the United States court system.
Over the last 18 months, the courts have begun developing case law (law established by the outcome of previous cases) on BYOD. The intent is to define the parameters of company systems, and data, on personal devices. Case law is important because it sets precedents for future court cases. Based on legal work to date, here are five emerging trends you should know.
More and More employers are allowing employees using their own devices (BYOD) on the company network. There are two types BYOD situations. First is the unsanctioned BYOD device, where an employee wants email on their phone for their own convenience. Typically, this is not a considered a reimbursable expense by the employer as it’s more of an understanding that productivity and workplace communication will now be easier for the employee. In contrast, some employers require employees to use their own mobile devices for business, and typically provide some type of reimbursable incentive. This is called sanctioned BYOD. Lookout, a cybersecurity company out of San Francisco, just completed the State of Federal BYOD survey. The results show how unsanctioned BYOD poses security risks (insert Hillary Clinton’s email debacle here). Consider this: 24% of Federal employees send work documents to their personal emails accounts and nearly 40% are “willing to sacrifice government security to use a personal mobile device at work” despite the risks of cybersecurity (Lookout). For small business, the lesson is to make sure you understand and define BYOD polices from the get-go.
Companies must reimburse employees who use their own devices. According to the courts, not reimbursing your employees for use of their cellphones is called involuntary wage reduction. What happens when you violate this policy? You risk a lawsuit, which you then have to disclose. It’s costly, and a judgment against you remains on your company’s record forever.
Companies have the right to wipe all personal data off a BYOD device. Having your device wiped clean is a risk that employees take when they agree to use their mobile device on the company network. Since business data resides on personal devices, an employer has the option to remove it if the employee quits, is terminated, or the device is lost. If an employer deletes an employee’s “personal” data while wiping a device, the courts have ruled in many cases that the employer is not liable. (Backup those pictures from Hawaii)
Electronic holds are legal. If an employer is involved in a lawsuit, and there is email, financial or other electronic data housed on a BYOD device, an electronic hold may be placed on that device by the courts, even if the employee is no longer employed by the company. This creates a challenging situation for employers and employees, and can lead to sanctions by the courts if the legal holds are not honored.
After-hours work is now a sanctioned environment. If you require an hourly employee to monitor their phone after work hours then he or she must be paid for it. In these instances, hourly employees (those who are paid on an hourly basis) may be eligible for overtime pay.
As technology experts, we constantly reevaluate BYOD because it is a workplace tool in flux. Our end goal is to make sure productivity and security remain high and our employees are happy with the policy too. While we have no crystal ball, we do see more blurred lines emerging between home and work when it comes to technology. How those lines converge will be something 3Points pledges to share with you in the days ahead.
If you would like to learn more about the BYOD solutions 3-Points is planning to provide, please contact your account manager or the 3Points sales department at (708) 491-0300. Or feel free to email us.
1. T ProPortal, “BYOD: What to Expect in 2015,” by Abby Perkins, January 24, 2015.
2. Lookout, “Lookout Study: Nearly 40 Percent of Government Employees Ignore Policies Prohibiting Mobile Device Use, Put Sensitive Data at Risk” press release, August 19, 2015.