BYOD use for enterprise workforces is continuing to grow, regardless of whether the official company policies support this type of device use, so IT teams and business leaders should get on board with BYOD to take advantage of its benefits.
While maintaining a clear separation between work and personal devices via strict enforcement of data protection policies can keep data secure, users might ignore this policy and find workarounds for their benefit or even by accident.
A simpler way to ensure unapproved BYOD use doesn't run rampant is to fold it into an organization's acceptable use policy. But there are plenty of benefits to adopting a BYOD policy beyond giving users a compliance-friendly way to get their work done.
7 benefits of implementing a BYOD policy
There isn't one single reason that implementing a BYOD policy can help organizations -- there are plenty reasons. The common threads throughout most of the benefits are employee experience and cost savings.
1. Lower upfront cost for hardware
The money saved from not purchasing a fleet of endpoints is perhaps the most obvious and easy-to-quantify benefit of a BYOD program. With BYOD in place, the burden of cost is shifted to the end users, but not in a way that drastically affects an end user's bottom line. After all, BYOD users will simply be adding functionality to the devices that they would own anyways.
These cost savings are not only upfront but also on the timeline of a refresh cycle. Consider an example organization with an endpoint refresh cycle of three years. The organization will save hundreds of dollars by not purchasing a new device for each user operating a BYOD endpoint. Further, users would likely bring corporate-owned devices in for repairs if damaged, but the user will usually handle a damaged personal device.
Some organizations could even consider passing on some of the savings to the end users by offering a BYOD stipend for a portion of the new device's cost if the device is truly critical to the user's day-to-day work.
2. Increased employee satisfaction
This benefit is more difficult to quantify precisely, but it stands to reason that users will have a better overall working experience if they don't need to carry around two smartphones -- or even laptops -- every day. Of course, each user might have a different preference for a device ownership program, but market research points to employees, in the aggregate, being more satisfied when they work using BYOD.
For example, a 2021 study from Cybersecurity Insiders found that increased employee satisfaction was the second most commonly reported benefit of implementing a BYOD program.
3. Improve user productivity
The same 2021 Cybersecurity Insiders study found that 68% of organizations see a boost in productivity after enabling a BYOD program.
Increased productivity is arguably the most important reason for deploying a BYOD program. Many organizations wouldn't implement a program that increases employee satisfaction and saves money from hardware costs if it led to lower overall productivity.
The reasons BYOD generally leads to more productivity are multifaceted. One major consideration is user familiarity with the platform. If a user is familiar with Apple devices, it might be difficult to adapt to using an Android smartphone or a Windows desktop. The same applies to someone familiar with Windows and Google Android -- corporate-owned Apple devices might present a learning curve. Even if a user is used to Android devices, moving from a Samsung-manufactured device to a Google-manufactured device could prove challenging.
4. A more connected workforce
Users that rely on their personal devices for work tasks are more likely to be able to access work materials at all times than users with a dedicated work device. If users have a dedicated work device, they are more likely to turn it off and put it fully away compared to an endpoint that also functions as a personal device.
A BYOD program's goal is not to trick users into checking their email and absentmindedly returning to work during their time off. However, in the event of timely tasks that need immediate approval or a work-related emergency, it's crucial to reach key employees immediately.
Consider a situation where an executive needs to approve a budget last minute or a data breach threatens critical systems -- it would be helpful to have a channel to communicate directly with the executive without expecting them to carry multiple smartphones and check in on work consistently.
These benefits are also present with corporate-owned personally enabled (COPE) endpoints, but only if users adopt those devices as their primary personal devices, which isn't always possible.
5. Easier for employees to keep track of one device
The notion that one device is easier to keep track of than two is almost too obvious, but it's worth exploring why that is key for organizations. One of the dangers of allowing any smartphone -- personal or corporate-owned -- to access an organization's business data and internal services is the risk of that device falling into the wrong hands.
According to research from endpoint service provider Asurion, 4.1 million phones were stolen or lost in 2022, and a stolen device can be catastrophic for an organization. Cybercriminals can gain access to internal data, change passwords to key accounts, view private communications and eventually elevate their privilege to access information beyond the user's permissions.
6. Limit the reasons to use personal devices improperly
In an ideal world, organizations could prevent BYOD use until they deploy an official policy, but unfortunately, that isn't the reality. Whether for convenience or out of desperation in a time-sensitive situation, users will find workarounds to use personal devices if they truly want to.
Even users who want to follow company policies around BYOD endpoints might find that management hasn't yet defined or enforced a policy. A 2018 survey from research firm Clutch determined that only 40% of users that employ BYOD endpoints for work reported being subject to regulations regarding this usage.
A well-communicated BYOD policy can mitigate both issues by providing a roadmap for securely handling work materials on a personal device.
7. Improve sustainability by limiting hardware-related emissions
As is often the case with calculating the sustainability of an organization's endpoint policies, any practice that leads to fewer device purchases -- or even longer lifecycles before a new device purchase -- will lead to more sustainable practices. Therefore, a BYOD program leading to an organization forgoing some device purchases can reduce an overall carbon footprint.
Naturally, there will be some emissions from users working on their BYOD smartphone or laptop due to the electricity used to charge the devices and the networks that keep them functioning. However, according to a 2022 Forbes article, 95% of carbon emissions associated with a smartphone come in its first year of use, with the majority of them coming during the manufacturing and shipping of the device and its components.
Issuing smartphones to users with a similar endpoint for their personal lives is a practice that significantly increases an organization's overall carbon emissions. As organizations look for ways to quickly reduce their emissions without overhauling their entire day-to-day operations, implementing BYOD programs can provide that value if the user base is on board.
Potential drawbacks of implementing a BYOD policy
There are several reasons that organizations might not want to deploy a BYOD policy despite all the benefits that these programs offer. Managing these devices is one of the most common challenges associated with a BYOD policy.
With a corporate-owned device, the organization gets to maintain full control of the device's settings and preset the device to block certain apps, functions or actions. However, a personally owned device presents more management challenges. Organizations can try to enact a comprehensive BYOD policy that gives them control over the device, but users might balk at this as an invasion of their privacy.
Smartphone manufacturers have been adding BYOD-friendly features that separate a device's work and personal sides. Apple's User Enrollment feature allows organizations to control the aspects of an Apple device that are within a managed Apple ID via mobile device management (MDM) while ignoring anything on the device that is associated with a personal Apple ID.
Google offers Android work profiles to keep Android devices under the proper management while respecting user privacy. The organization gets to choose the apps and services to deploy on the work profile, and once the device is registered, the user can switch back and forth between the profiles as needed.
Even with this data protection in place for user devices, there is still the concern about data leakage from the work side of the device to the personal side. Further, threats that penetrate a user's personal device present a significant threat.
There are also concerns about user preference and corporate culture when implementing BYOD. Some users might prefer a second device they can bring when needed but put away when they're off the clock.