BYOD – Bring Your Own Device, or Bought Your Own Disaster?

It seems that the talk of business is BYOD – employees don’t want to carry two phones – employers don’t want to buy phones for employees … what to do, what to do …

Here is a thought !  Lets bring our own devices, iPhones, iPads, Blackberries, and Droids to work and get our corporate email on there !

Here is a thought !  Lets tell our employees we will give them $ 25.00/month to use their own personal devices for corporate email and we won’t have to buy them phones !

And how wonderful that is, the win-win proposition of business.  What could be bad with that ??

Well – it may not be a bad thing at all, as long as the employees and the employer are both pleased with the employment arrangement that they have entered into.  But suppose, one day, the rose-colored glasses break, and it is time to change the employment arrangement. Most of the time, either the employer or the employee knows when this is going to happen before the other one does.  They both know, however, that some of the data on the phone is personal and some of it is corporate.

We now have a electronic data child custody battle.  I’ll bet you weren’t ready for this when the whole BYOD idea came up.

From a corporate perspective, the data on that phone needs to be wiped – but you can’t do that without wiping the whole phone, and those cute little pictures of the puppies the phone owner took this morning will be lost.  That will not go over well.

From a personal perspective, that phone belongs to me, and so does everything on it.  Im not tech-savvy and I don’t know how to back it up, but Im not asking my ex-company for help..

So, Solomon, the baby is in front of you … what do you do ?

It would not be uncommon for both sides to have attorneys to represent their interests – so what will you do ?  Will you, the employee, hand over your phone to be wiped and lose all of your personal information ?  Do you want them to see the texts that say that your boss is an idiot ?  Or perhaps the not-so-flattering pictures you took of a co-worker (who wants to continue being employed) when you were out last weekend ?

Will you, the company owner, be comfortable with the employee you fired saying “don’t worry, Im not upset over this, I’d be happy to erase all of your critical data that I have on my device” ?

No, there is no good answer in this situation.  How did we get here ??  Oh, that is right, we wanted a little more convenience and to save a little more money.

My advice is simple : don’t do it.  If you need your employees to have mobile devices, then provide them.  If they don’t want to carry two devices, then they can leave their personal phones at home, or in their car.  It might cost you an extra $ 50.00 / month, but your attorney bills will consume 3 years of that in one day of legal work.  As an employee, I value my right to privacy too much to allow corporate interests to infringe upon my personal life.  Yes, they would give me money per month to defray my data costs, but my rights are not for sale.

At the very least, when you are tempted to enter into such an arrangement, consult your attorney for legal advice.

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