BYOD (bring your own device) programs allow employees to use their personal devices for work to access company data and applications, such as corporate email, calendars and contacts. Personal devices include smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

BYOD is not a new trend and has been around for over a decade. However, with the increased usage of mobile devices, the importance of BYOD programs has increased. 95% of Americans now own a cellphone of some kind, 77% own smartphones, and most own more than one device. 73% of Americans also own a computer, either a desktop or laptop, and about 53% own tablets (Pew Research Center). Previously, employees accessed company applications on work computers. Now that most people have equally great technology in their own homes, and most applications can be accessed both on the computer and mobile devices, BYOD programs are becoming increasingly popular. BYOD programs are projected to grow at a compound annual rate of 19.7% in the small business sector by 2022 (Crystal Market Research).

There are many reasons why a small business may want to put a BYOD program in place. It has the potential to improve productivity since employees are more familiar with their own gadgets and can therefore work more quickly. At the same time, hardware costs are reduced by employees bringing their own devices. With a BYOD program in place, employees can work from anywhere, including on their commute to work or while at home. Employees are more readily available to manage work related crises at anytime from anywhere.

There are also some drawbacks to implementing a BYOD program. While these programs may reduce hardware costs, partial reimbursement for personal device use is required in the state of California. At the same time, managing and monitoring a BYOD program will require time and attention from your IT and HR resources. A BYOD program will also increase the security risks by having more devices connected to your network. 58% of malware attack victims are categorized as small businesses (Source: Verizon 2018 DBIR). Finally, a BYOD program will reduce employee privacy, and these privacy issues need to be addressed and communicated clearly at the onset.

Each business should consider the benefits and drawbacks of a BYOD program while also considering any regulatory or compliance issues in their industry.