How to support BYOD in the hybrid workplace

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Once upon a time, the thought of employing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies in the workplace was met with side-eyes from leadership across the board. Funny how quickly things change.

BYOD went from taboo to acceptable to, in some instances, even preferred, as numerous benefits of employee choice came to light. But the COVID-19 pandemic flipped the conversation on its head yet again when remote work became the preferred approach to maintaining “business as usual.”

Out of necessity to ensure employees had the tools they needed to be successful while working from home, many organizations signed off on BYOD. And, now, with end user computing (EUC) device and global chip shortages extending out over the next few years, businesses need BYOD more than ever.

The only problem is, there’s another wrinkle being thrown into the mix: hybrid work.

A hybrid future with BYOD challenges – and how to solve them

A hybrid everything world is the future.

According to a recent McKinsey survey, nine out of 10 executives foresee some combination of remote and on-site working as the predominant post-pandemic work model. Most employees favor this approach as well, with 83% of respondents to an Accenture study agreeing that a hybrid model is “optimal.”

But the mixture of BYOD and hybrid work presents a litany of challenges and concerns for businesses and employees, ranging from security to privacy to a widening skills gap. And, if managed incorrectly, the combination could be more harmful than helpful.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are three things you must do to support BYOD in the hybrid workplace:

1. Modernize security measures and policies

Hybrid environments were already more difficult to secure than a traditional on-premises infrastructure. BYOD has only compounded the issue.

An influx of random endpoints, an expansion of attack surfaces, increased exposure of sensitive corporate data, potential risk to users’ identities. These are common vulnerabilities that must be addressed when assessing BYOD in hybrid work – because the greatest risk to an organization is unmanaged devices.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) should be your first line of defense against protecting identities. Employ mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management tools – like Microsoft Intune – to secure your corporate data. These will allow you to do everything from hardening your network to creating policies that keep out jailbroken devices.

Additionally, look to a zero trust model to modernize secure access. With zero trust, you can make sure that only the right people have access to certain data, applications, and workloads.

2. Gain sponsorship from all parties

Is everyone on board with the idea? If not, then you have a huge problem.

This approach requires all parties – from the C-suite to your end users – to work together to achieve a single goal. The tools are there, but you need the culture to match.

For starters, a mind shift in the management of security policies is required to address a modern workforce. Businesses need to close the gap between traditional IT management and the available modern tools and how they’re used. They also need sponsorship from the top down.

3. Address employee privacy concerns

On the surface, BYOD in the hybrid workplace sounds appealing. It provides employees with flexibility while enabling them to use the devices they’re most comfortable with. Both of which could help improve user productivity.

However, there’s also some trepidation around privacy.

Sure, users can now work with familiar devices, but they must also let them be managed (to a certain extent) by their company. And that can be a tough pill to swallow.

In these instances, it’s not uncommon for employees to worry that the organization will gain access to their personal information, can view their search history, or even read text messages. But that’s not entirely accurate – and it must be addressed.

For BYOD and hybrid to be successful, there needs to be an open line of communication between employer and employee. The smoothest approach involves a communication campaign, where businesses outline the expectations they have for their employees, while alleviating any privacy concerns.

Trust must be established, as well as a clear understanding of what is and isn’t allowed by all parties. If not, execution is going to be a struggle.

This is going to stick. Are you ready for it?

Organizations that were heavily dependent on on-premises resources had a really difficult time adjusting when their workforce moved out of the building. Those who were already leveraging the cloud and had a BYOD policy in place tended to handle the transition a little better.

Given that hybrid work is preferred among both employers and employees, and device and chip shortages are expected to cause hardware nightmares over the next few years, this marriage between hybrid and BYOD doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. If anything, it could easily accelerate.

Businesses must be ready to support it. By modernizing security measures and policies, addressing privacy concerns, and obtaining sponsorship across the board, you will be well on your way to maximizing BYOD in a hybrid environment.

For more information on supporting your hybrid workforce, check out the Supporting You to Support the Hybrid Workforce page on SHI.com.

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