Developing an IT Playbook for a BYOD Workforce

By Elizabeth Clor

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the bring your own device (BYOD) work trend. People increasingly sign on to company email, applications and accounts from their personal laptops, smartphones and other devices. For IT teams, an increase in BYOD-generated work raises immediate challenges regarding the integrity and security of corporate systems, platforms and data. 

According to Frost and Sullivan, employees using personal devices to conduct work tasks either on the go, at the office or from home can save 58 minutes per day and increase overall productivity by as much as 34%. Companies can also save roughly $350 per employee if they endorse the use of personal devices for work, according to Cisco.

But in order to catch up with the BYOD reality, IT leaders should create playbooks, or streamlined resources that offer information in the form of a shared document accessible to everyone at the company, that clearly lay out organization-specific security protocols when it comes to personal device use, best practices and data sharing processes.

BYOD playbook: Get the full picture and offer guidance 

When developing an IT playbook to fit specific BYOD needs, it’s important to take stock of the platforms, apps and systems used to conduct work on-premises. It’s also crucial to map out the various devices and operating systems that employees from chief executives to interns commonly use on a daily basis. Once an IT team gathers the full picture of hardware and software in rotation at their company they can be in a position to offer informed guidance on the best ways to use them remotely. Additionally, they can begin the process of developing a more BYOD-centric IT playbook for employees that provides advice centered around how to protect corporate data and personnel information flowing between them. 

The information should be useful and relevant to a company’s staff operations. For example, if an employee downloads the Slack app on their personal iPhone for internal work communications and the Gmail app for external work emails, they can turn to the playbook for relevant information about the best way to use the apps for work on a personal device. Guidelines provided by IT teams in BYOD playbooks should also offer context around the security protocols and risks inherent in use of specific apps. The same process of mapping best practices and risks to certain digital operations should be carried out for potentially vulnerable cloud platforms, like Google Docs or Dropbox, that organizations use to collaborate and share work in real-time.

Developing a clear, useful asset for employees to reference in times of IT need will alleviate some of the burden on IT support and empower employees to address some issues without having to submit a ticket. To give you an idea of where to start, here’s recommended BYOD playbook table of contents:

  1. Overview of company hardware and software
  2. Overview of external mobile and desktop applications in use
  3. Overview of company IT and security protocols
  4. Best practices for iOS users
  5. Best Practices for Android users 
  6. Frequently asked questions
  7. IT support contact information (to be used only in the event this playbook does not answer or provide enough context for an issue).

Developing a tailored BYOD playbook will be a unique process for every organization with factors that depend on industry, scale of digital operations, size of workforce and corporate systems in place that can be accessed from external devices. However, a common practice among IT leaders should be providing an overview in the introduction that lays out what’s at stake if employees using their own devices fail to use best practices and adhere to security protocols outlined in the following pages in the course of their workdays.

Working with workforces to safeguard remote operations

Ensuring that BYOD playbooks are useful for both remote and on-premises workforces requires IT teams understanding how to communicate the importance of data protection, integrity and security at the individual-level. IT teams writing playbooks should make it a point to deliver clear, actionable and baseline guidance for people of all familiarity levels with commonly-used personal devices and work systems, platforms and apps. Playbook authors should include documents with relevant IT contact information so employees with challenges or difficulties can access support resources as needed.

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