By Renee Mielnicki, Esq.
Let’s face it. We live in a technological world. We are coming to rely on technology more and more every day in both our personal and professional lives. Laptops, iPhones, iPads, Blackberries and other smart phones and tablets are everywhere. Most companies are becoming more and more dependent upon modern technology to run their businesses. Employees regularly use smart phones or blackberries to access their work emails, calendars and other company systems or networks. In an effort to be more cost efficient and increase productivity, a majority of companies are allowing employees to “BYOD” or “Bring Your Own Device” to work. BYOD is not only a catchy little phrase, but it’s a trend that is spreading fast in the business world. Unfortunately, like any other good thing, it doesn’t come without potential pitfalls.
While the idea may seem nothing but appealing, employers should consider a number of different issues before allowing employees to use their own devices. The largest concern for employers is the ability of employees to steal trade secrets, reveal customer lists and expose proprietary information in a split second. Our obsession with social media today coupled with our technology-savvy abilities allows employees to move this type of confidential information from the company system to the public eye with the press of a button. Beyond the loss of private information are potential wage and hour issues.
Employers wanting to follow the BYOD trend should first implement a written policy setting forth parameters around the use of personal devices. An effective BYOD policy should address company ownership of data, confidentiality, employee privacy, the types of information that can be accessed or stored on the devices and required safety precautions, including password protection and risky applications. These polices should also define which employees can use their own device as well as the types of devices that are permitted.
A recent survey revealed that only one-third of companies following the BYOD trend have a written policy. A carefully crafted policy can act as a deterrent as far as theft of trade secrets or misappropriation of private information. Employers failing to implement a written policy may be wishing they had when they are forced to partake in costly litigation. Of course, employers can always choose not to join the BYOD party if they believe the risks outweigh the rewards.
If you’d like help crafting a “BYOD” policy, give us a call at 724-864-8745.