It’s one thing for a funky digital design agency int he Paintworks to have guys “touching down” in the office with their Macbook Pro, or loading a presentation onto their iPad to take to a client. It’s quite another for a larger company, grown used to the sound of humming hardware, to do that.
But ‘bring your own device’ is making headway as employers listen to the benefits and give tech-saavy staff the opportunity to make a case. AgencyUK, a communications business in Bath, has come around to the idea. Managing director Sammy Mansourpour says: “The rapid pace of technology is a challenge we face daily. Document version control, data security, hot desking and working from home all play havoc with the multiple devices and platforms our staff use.
“We standardised the software and hardware, but this soon became unworkable, as they needed updating almost monthly, contractor teams would swell and shrink weekly, and our website and app testing environments and protocols were almost continually being refreshed.”
The company still invests in all the latest gadgetry, but Mansourpour responded to a desire from staff to streamline their working lives. “We still buy all the latest mobile and tablet hardware,” he says. “However, many of the smartphones and laptops are owned by staff. They prefer having less equipment, and setting machines to personal preferences, which is far more efficient. We set their machines up, give them security access to our network, and ensure that no files or data are able to be saved locally. Staff can work remotely, and contractors can plug into our cloud network when they’re working for us, while restrictions apply when they leave.”
Security is a concern. TalkTalk Business has developed WorkSafe, a network-based solution that automatically protects any device, inclusing personal PCs, tablets and smartphones that are connected to the customers’ network.
It seems to be a case of being alert enough to see where problems might arise, Mansourpour says: “The protocols meet our clients’ data protection contracts, and we hold all confidential files on our servers. But we all share a concern for how scalable this is when our development teams exceed 50 people and corporate IT support becomes its own in-house department.”
So can it work? Yes, provided the control and policies are in place, says Andy Poulton of Bristol IT Company. “We recommend that you make certain that you can maintain control over how private devices can use your network, and how they are allowed to access and store sensitive company data. Then you need to put clear policies in place, so that staff understand what they may, or may not, do and the consequences.
“Some even go as far as modifying employment contracts. Don’t forget insurance, either. If you have business continuity cover, BYOD may affect how you are assessed for risk, and your insurers will want to know the details of your scheme. Finally, you might also decide to contribute to the employee’s costs. After all, you’re no longer having to provide equipment.”