Should You Allow Your Employees to Use Their Own Electronic Devices for Work?

Many companies are being faced with the decision to allow employees to use their personal electronic devices for work purposes. Have you considered this issue for your company? We are listing the pros and cons to BYOD (bringing your own device) to work and providing 15 tips on policy related to this issue.

Small businesses are concerned with many things including security, costs, efficiency, technology, legal compliance and more. One area of increasing concern and questioning is allowing employees to use their own personal devices, such as laptops, phones, iPads, etc. at work. A recent study cited 74% of businesses are either currently allowing or planning to allow employees to use their own devices. Should you allow your employees to use their own devices for work and if so what security and monitoring and other issues do you need to address?

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    Many employees, including millennials, prefer using their own devices instead of using company issued equipment. While this can help lower your costs and improve morale, it can also bring a great deal of security and other issues with it. Let’s review some bring your own device (BYOD) pros and cons:

    Here are some of the benefits to allowing employees to bring their own devices to work.

    BYOD Pro No. 1: It can create a more efficient and relaxed environment.

    BYOD Pro No. 2: It can help a small business to save money by eliminating the need to provide employees devices and equipment.

    BYOD Pro No. 3: It has been known to boost morale and productivity by allowing employees to use devices they are familiar and comfortable with.

    BYOD Pro No. 4: It can also provide your business with the latest technology at little or no cost to you because many employees, especially millennials, will upgrade to the newest equipment on the market.

    While these pros are significant, there are also several negative qualities that go along with employees using their own devices.

    BYOD Con No. 1: Personal equipment can expand your risk to exposure of information. Allowing use of personal devices takes away your control of passwords, lock functions, protection of the equipment itself, unauthorized access to company data and more.

    BYOD Con No. 2: The issue of protection of the equipment itself can be unclear. Who is responsible if it is stolen or lost?

    BYOD Con No. 3: Employees may feel that using company issued equipment instead of their own increases your access to their personal information such as financial data, personal contacts, photos, etc. They may also worry that you can remove these things from their device and they lose all control. This is especially true when an employee is terminated.

    BYOD Con No. 4: Employees using their own personal devices may feel more secure using their equipment to hurt your company thru social media, texting, etc.

    BYOD Con No. 5: If nonexempt employees are asked to use personal devices for work, you may open yourself up to exposure under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state overtime and wage payment laws. Since nonexempt workers will have ready access to the technology, they may be put in the position to respond to emails and text messages or to otherwise engage in work activities outside their scheduled work hours.

    BYOD Con No. 6: It can be unclear how to handle expense reimbursement. State law may dictate how this is to be handled. Does the employer have to pay for the data plan?

    BYOD Con No. 7: It may be necessary to include methods to ensure that any business records stored on an employee’s personal device have been saved long enough to satisfy electronic discovery requests during litigation. Failing to retrieve information stored on a worker’s personal device that should have been produced may lead to consequences for you should you face any litigation.

    The importance of a Having a Good Company Policy

    Allowing employees to use their own devices for work requires a strong, concise policy addressing all issues. Make sure your policy includes detailed information on how to separate employee work product from personal data. And before implementing a BYOD policy at your business, develop a security plan with your IT department, HR department or consultant, and inside or outside legal counsel that outlines regulations employees must follow.

    Here are some tips for what should be addressed in your policy:

    Policy Tip No. 1: Include an explanation about how you will educate your employees on the importance of following these regulations, so you can avoid the risk of data being compromised. Have them sign a paper stating they received the policy and will abide by it.

    Policy Tip No. 2: Clearly state which devices are allowed and how your company will support them.

    Policy Tip No. 3: Mandate specific policy on security, anti-virus software, firewalls, use of unsecured wi-fi networks, passwords and access to your company data. Be specific and include punishment for not adhering to the rules.

    Policy Tip No. 4: Determine which devices will be permitted and supported and which types of company data people will be able to access from them.

    Policy Tip No. 5: Determine who in your business can use personal devices. You may want to decide this based on the job responsibilities and the level of the job.

    Policy Tip No. 6: Include guidelines for work hours. Be specific about when they are “on the clock” and when they are “off the clock” when using their own devices.

    Policy Tip No. 7: Be clear about your ability to access information on their devices. Make sure to state that company work product and data is owned by the company and cannot be utilized for any other purposes.

    Policy Tip No. 8: Be sure your policy addresses sexting, texting while driving, sexual harassment, inappropriate materials or downloads, bullying and other HR and possible liability issues.

    Policy Tip No. 9: Establish your right to access, monitor and delete information from employee-owned devices.

    Policy Tip No. 10: Determine and communicate whether you will introduce any new forms of monitoring, such as location-based tracking via GPS or other methods. If so, specify when the monitoring will be used by the employer and for what purpose.

    Policy Tip No. 11: State how your company will protect an employee’s personal information and identify what that information is and how it will be used and saved.

    Policy Tip No. 12: If you plan to delete information upon termination, determine what data will be wiped and give them notice.

    Policy Tip No. 13: Put in place a data protection clause that includes protocols for reporting lost or stolen devices, mandating certain antivirus and protective software, and requiring or strongly encouraging regular backups.

    Policy Tip No. 14: Include a policy on lost devices. Define who is responsible and address replacement issues.

    Policy Tip No. 15: Include in your policy who is responsible for authorizing work-related software and other downloads.

    While this may seem like a lot of work and expense for a small business, it is necessary to protect your business, your work product and possibly head off legal issues in the future.

    President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Speaker, Trainer, Corporate Security ExpertTimothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues. He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University. Contact him at info@sacsconsulting.com


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  • Skills Based Hiring

    Some of you may not be aware, but there’s a talent shortage here in the region in IT. All jokes aside, Northeast Ohio is in need for great talent and it may be nearing a helpful solution in Skills Based Hiring.

    Some of you may not be aware, but there’s a talent shortage here in the region in IT. All jokes aside, Northeast Ohio is in need for great talent and it may be nearing a helpful solution in Skills Based Hiring.

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    So what is skills based hiring? According to Innovate-Educate out of Albuquerque, NM it is “the act of incorporating a tangible and objective measure of skills and skill level into the hiring process. With skills-based hiring, we believe employers can open their talent pool by discovering highly skilled candidates, able to do the job, who may not have been apparent through traditional hiring methods.  This system is a fundamental shift for the job seeker as well because it makes the hiring process transparent. When employers post jobs with required skills that can be objectively measured through assessments, job seekers can immediately determine if they are qualified for the job.  In cases where the job seeker does not meet the necessary skill requirements, the final piece of the system is ‘skill development’ where job seekers have access to resources and support to improve their job skills.”

    Pretty cool right? OHTech thinks so as well as several other groups in Northeast Ohio, like the RITE Regional IT Engagement board. 

    So where are we at with Skills Based Hiring currently? Here are a few things of note to share with you all about the process to date:

    1. We are in the process of determining what are the top three jobs to fill in IT
    2. We are also in the process of determining the top issues workforce issues facing our participating employers (ex. Soft skills, technical skills, unable to develop current employees etc…)
    3. We are still looking for more employers who’d be interested in committing the time to participate (the more the merrier)
    4. And soon will be in the process of shaping what the long-term project will look like

    I know I am very excited to be a part of this new project and am hoping we can get it off the ground. I feel very confident that we can add additional talent related solutions that aren’t just all focused on finding the talent. Some of those things would be helping to develop current employees to be future leaders, help with employee retention strategies, continuing education programs with our local universities just to name a few. 

    Like many of our IT companies in Northeast Ohio and our members in OHTech, we see this is a bold step towards helping Northeast Ohio become the best destination for a career in IT.

    To learn more about skills based hiring, follow this link.

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    Next up: Small Business Energy Initiative: Teaching Energy Efficiency Best Practices
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  • Small Business Energy Initiative: Teaching Energy Efficiency Best Practices

    COSE/GCP recently hosted a group of chamber and small business association leaders in a deep-dive discussion around the topic of energy efficiency. Here are some of the topics that were discussed.

    Chamber and small business association leaders from across the country, spanning a region from Massachusetts to Colorado, came together under the Department of Energy Small Business Energy Initiative for a deep dive on Sept. 19 at the COSE/GCP offices in downtown Cleveland. The purpose of the gathering was to help these leaders learn catalytic strategies to engage their small business members in energy efficiency gains.

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    Led by COSE and the Institute for Market Transformation, attendees joined in a dynamic conversation that included graphic facilitation to capture the highlights, and to learn how to leverage energy efficiency and green leasing as economic development drivers for their community.

    The agenda was focused around market transformation topics that discussed the role of the chamber and similar organizations to drive small business energy efficiency; engaging the right stakeholders/team; engaging landlords and tenants at the same table around the lease to move the efficiency needle; establishing a local contractors network; and energy efficiency as a catalyst for retention strategy. 

    So, what’s next?

    No one has a magic wand or silver bullet on cracking the code of engaging small businesses better than the next organization. But when a group of likeminded, savvy leaders come together, you know some good brain trust is gathered and new ideas always emerge.

    Attendees were at all stages of the energy marketplace and through the Department of Energy initiative grant, technical assistance can be provided to these new markets to strategically implement energy efficiency programming with a green leasing component. 

    Which organizations will take the leap? During the next month, the COSE and IMT will be fleshing out those details. 

    And over the next year and a half, the Initiative will seek to conduct more than 400 energy audits across various markets (including Cleveland, through COSE’s energy audit program with FirstEnergy) and review at least 100 leases to provide recommendations around green leasing to enhance the relationship between landlord and tenant, with the ultimate goal of helping those small business realize energy efficiency goals through upgrades and retrofits.

    We will keep you up to date on the follow through that takes place following the energy initiative meeting that took place. In the meantime, visit our Energy Hub to learn more about how COSE/GCP can help your business be more energy efficient and save.

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    Next up: Small Business Internship Program Kickoff
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  • Small Business Internship Program Kickoff

    The COSE/Youth Opportunities Unlimited/Cuyahoga Community College Small Business Internship Program held its official kickoff meeting on September 23.

    The COSE/Youth Opportunities Unlimited/Cuyahoga Community College Small Business Internship Program held its official kickoff meeting on September 23.

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    A total of 22 interns will be working with 19 small businesses on projects that will help the small businesses with generating sales leads, improving the way they use social media and answering key market research questions.

    •    RELATED: Learn how your small business can benefit from an internship program.

    This pilot will run through year end and the goal is to create a sustainable approach to creating experiences for local students to connect with small business owners to get real world experience solving their real challenges in growing and running their businesses.

    22 interns will be working with 19 small businesses on projects that will help the small businesses with generating sales leads, improving the way they use social media and answering key market research questions.  This pilot will run through year end and the goal is to create a sustainable approach to creating experiences for local students to connect with small business owners to get real world experience solving their real challenges in growing and running their businesses.

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    Next up: Small Businesses and Electric Billing: How to Control Demand and Consumption
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  • Small Businesses and Electric Billing: How to Control Demand and Consumption

    Are you aware of the unique electricity billing for small businesses? Not only are small businesses billed for the energy they consume, but they are also billed for their energy demand. Energy demand refers to the average kilowatts necessary for usage over a given period of time. The charge for energy demand is based on the highest half hour of energy usage in a given month. Therefore, the cost for a businesses’ demand for energy can be greatly increased by even a short spike in electricity usage. 

    Are you aware of the unique electricity billing for small businesses? Not only are small businesses billed for the energy they consume, but they are also billed for their energy demand. Energy demand refers to the average kilowatts necessary for usage over a given period of time. The charge for energy demand is based on the highest half hour of energy usage in a given month. Therefore, the cost for a businesses’ demand for energy can be greatly increased by even a short spike in electricity usage.  

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    In order for a small business to reduce energy costs, the consumption and demand for energy must be addressed as both are factors for electricity billing. However, it can be easy to simultaneously reduce consumption and demand by becoming more energy efficient.

    One area that can be quickly improved to reduce consumption and demand is lighting. If your business has bulbs or lamps that use around 100 watts, upgrading to LED lighting that uses about 10 watts can greatly reduce both your usage and demand. If all of the lights were upgraded to LEDs, you would be using about a tenth of your previous wattage for lighting. This reduces the energy you consume, as well as your energy demand!

    As many small businesses have equipment that is vital to their processes, focusing on upgrading lighting is key as it is a quick task that can help to reduce your total electricity consumption and demand. Reducing your electricity usage for lighting can help to offset any large equipment in your business that uses the bulk of your electricity.

    Another way to reduce demand costs for your small business is by using a phased approach of turning on the equipment in your business. Instead of turning all of your large equipment with high energy needs on at the same time, gradually turn on these pieces of equipment. Using a phased approach for your larger equipment helps to prevent spikes in your energy demand, which can help reduce the cost for this part of your electricity billing.

    By making easy upgrades to your lighting and by being conscious of your energy demand with larger equipment, you can start to control and reduce your business’ energy costs!

    To learn more about how small businesses are charged for their electricity demand, read this quick explanation about energy demand from First Energy.

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    Next up: Social Media as a Tool to Identify Qualified Candidates
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  • Social Media as a Tool to Identify Qualified Candidates

    How can you maximize your hiring efforts through social media? Ask your savvy employees to help you indentify quality candidates.

    How can you maximize your hiring efforts through social media? Ask your savvy employees to help you indentify quality candidates.

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    Companies such as Appirio and Jobvite will locate people throughout your social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

    “Appirio’s matching engine comes up with a list of friends whose job titles, geographic location and other keywords match their company’s available positions, and the employee can send them a referral [through] Facebook,” said Ryan Nichols, Appirio’s vice president for product management. The matching engine has access to the same information that a Facebook friend does.

    Jobvite offers a similar service, but with a wider range. While the Appirio software can currently search Facebook contacts, Jobvite can search Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter contacts. “And anyone who receives a Jobvite can search their own networks and pass it along again,” said Dan Finnigan, the chief executive of Jobvite.

    Furthermore, your employees can be your most effective recruiters. Gladys Stone, a corporate recruiter in San Francisco, says it’s smart for employers to tap into employees’ social networks. [The practice] accelerates the personal referral process and [opens up the field to diverse candidates], as many social network users have hundreds of friends or contacts in their networks, she said.

    If you’re willing to get a little creative and enlist the help of your employees, as many small businesses do, social media can help you increase your talent pool. Larger organizations, while competitive, can’t always move as quickly as you or offer higher growth potential opportunities the way that you can.

    Empower your people and you will receive a return on your investment!

    References: 
    http://guides.wsj.com/small-business/hiring-and-managing-employees/how-to-attract-talent-to-a-small-company/
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/31/jobs/31recruit.html?_r=1&
    www.appirio.com
    www.jobvite.com


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