If Santa brought you a new tablet, you're probably thinking of bringing it into work after you return from Christmas vacation. While the post Christmas Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) rush focuses on IT directors, it's also a good time for tablet users to ask the right questions before committing their personal devices to their employer's BYOD program.
An organization's move to BYOD brings with it all sorts of new policies. As a user, you need to review your employer's policies thoroughly. This isn't the employee handbook you got at orientation and signed off on without really reading it. Unfortunately, new BYOD policies can be in a state of flux, so you need to pay attention. We've also yet to really see the first of any BYOD-related legal cases. Such unfortunate events could provoke reactionary changes to BYOD in small and large companies alike, as they tighten up their policies to remove themselves from legal and security risks.
Let's take a look at what I call my post-Christmas BYOD checklist.
Why are you bringing the tablet to work?
Before you bring your tablet into work, you have to sign off on your understanding of your employer's policies. This means that you have to decide if blending your personal and work lives through a tablet is worth it. If you use tablets beyond the cool factor, and bringing your tablet in to work will help you gain an edge, then it's worth it. If you just check your personal email and fantasy football league, your tablet might be better left in your bag and brought out when you're at a free Wi-Fi hotspot during lunch.
Does your employer monitor BYOD devices? If so, how?
Putting your personal tablet on your employer's network isn't going to be without monitoring software. While Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions, such as Good Technology's Good Mobile Manager, aren't very invasive or taxing to your tablet's system resources, it's the one point where your employer is in "your personal stuff."
MDM solutions can monitor when you send/receive email, access corporate resources, and even external web sites, depending on how your employer configures their system. I could write a whole post (probably a couple, actually) on MDM solutions, but for the purposes of this post, I recommend that you really ask questions about the security monitoring over your personal device. With the answers your organization provides you, it's then it up to you to decide if you're comfortable having the use of your personal device monitored.
What are the reimbursement considerations?
While reimbursement considerations apply mainly to using a personal smartphone on corporate business, it is also a consideration if your tablet has 3G or LTE built in. Be careful to look for any reimbursement limitations for data services, documentation of a monthly stipend, and related eligibility.
Even if your company is generous with reimbursements, do you want to be filing and chasing down expense reports every month?
What are the tablet security considerations?
Using your tablet as part of BYOD means that's you can no longer break the rules with simple or no passwords so that your spouse or children can use the same tablet to play Angry Birds after dinner. It can also mean connecting your personal tablet via Virtual Private Network (VPN), installing additional security software, and other measures.
While mobile security should be a priority for everybody, it's easy to get casual with personal devices. When you take a personal tablet BYOD, it's your personal device but your employer's security rules.
What does your employer define as acceptable use for the BYOD device?
One of the challenges of BYOD programs and policies is acceptable use. When personally-owned devices meet corporate infrastructure, it's still a gray area in many organizations, because virtually all BYOD policies are still maturing. One of the biggest questions an organization must ask is whether BYOD devices are allowed access to corporate SharePoint sites and internal applications.
What support does your employer offer for BYOD devices?
Tablets have been one of those technologies that have transcended user communities. Early adopters and novices alike can both use tablets effectively. Regardless of where you are in the spectrum of tablet users, you need to find out what level of support your employer is going to offer for your tablet if you encounter issues during the course of your job. There is also the question of who handles the repair or replacements costs of a BYOD device if it's damaged or lost during the course of business.
Device support is definitely a place where your trust or lack thereof in your employer should come into play.
When a personal tablet goes BYOD
While so much of the focus on BYOD revolves around productivity and cost savings, as a user, you need to ask questions up front before committing to your organization's BYOD program. BYOD policies can change the way you even work with your personal tablet, because you'll be mingling business with pleasure.
Will Kelly is a technical and marketing communications writer based in the Washington, DC area. He has written about SMB technology, data center management, project management applications, mobile computing, Microsoft Office, and productivity applications for online and print technology publications. You can reach Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.