Improve and secure your way of working: Office 365 and BYOD

What is BYOD?

A BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy allows your employees, who spend much of the work day outside the office, to easily access everything they need, from wherever they are.

Even primarily desk-based employees might need to travel for meetings or events, and if they do, they need to be able to take their work with them.

Benefits of BYOD policies

It’s estimated that seven out of 10 small businesses in the UK have now included BYOD as part of their everyday operations.

It is, of course, necessary to have regulations in place to ensure security and confidentiality but, in most cases, employees just want to be able to get on with their jobs and restricting their access too tightly can lead to a frustrated – and therefore unproductive – workforce.

The acceptance of BYOD is a large part of big companies attracting top talent. Most workers prefer to work on systems and machine that they are familiar with – a long-time Mac user might struggle to learn how to use a Windows machine, for example. This familiarity and comfort leads to higher job satisfaction, morale and productivity.

So, BYOD is preferable for your employees and is advantageous to your business as well.

For example, if your employees are bringing their own machines to work on, your business doesn’t need to buy machines for everyone. And, because employees tend to be more careful with their own equipment, your business will save money on breakages and repairs of equipment too.

Importantly, a BYOD policy must come with a set of restrictions to ensure private and confidential company and customer data remains secure.

Considerations of a BYOD policy

When sitting down with your employees to discuss BYOD policies, there are various things to consider.

These things will require constant monitoring to ensure that all regulations are being abided by. Users need to understand the rules that have been set out and must agree to them if they wish to use their own devices for work.

Password management

It’s always a good idea to educate your employees on the importance of good password safety, and when it’s their own devices they’re using this is doubly true.

If an employee wants to use their own device to connect to your business’ systems, then both parties must be sure that the device – mobile, tablet or desktop – is secure and protected by a strong password that is changed at regular intervals.

Programmes and applications

There should be an agreed upon list of what apps and services can be installed and run on your employee’s device.

Considerations should be made over how two apps will interact with each other and if that could lead to any security vulnerabilities that could allow hackers access to your company data.

Office 365 Business Premium comes with online and offline versions of all of Microsoft’s most popular business applications such as Word and Excel. Documents and files can be stored on OneDrive and can only be accessed by employees with an assigned username and password.

Security updates

Part of your BYOD policy should be an agreement for employees to regularly backup and update their systems.

Running older versions of software could lead to vulnerabilities being discovered and exploited. If vulnerabilities are found, they are patched by the provider and rolled out to machines. Users must ensure that all operating systems, software, and applications are up-to-date at all times.

The programmes and applications on Office 365 are automatically updated to the latest versions, ensuring that the programmes on phones, tablets or desktops are always protected from any discovered vulnerabilities.

Staff changes

Although it may not be an immediate thought when setting up BYOD policies with your employees, it’s unlikely that those employees will be at the company forever so there needs to be decisions made over what happens to the devices and access if, and when, the employee leaves the company.

There should be a compulsory complete or partial wipe of the device to ensure that no documents or data remains on the device when the employee leaves the company. Your business might even want to enforce a rule that requires the employee to get a new phone number, because the one they’ve been using previously is so heavily linked to the business.

Office 365 helps deal with staff changes through mobile device management (MDM). If a business has granted conditional access to an employee’s device, mobile device management on Office 365 can be configured to control the deletion of data remotely. This would remove all of the company’s files from the device, but wouldn’t require a full factory reset of the device.

MDM can also enforce a password policy on devices, implement and administer mailbox policies and configure security settings. In the event of staff changes, mobile device management can wipe the device remotely. This gives administrators the control they require, and employees the freedom they desire.

Enforcement of the BYOD policy

As well as creating a BYOD policy from the beginning, it’s important to consistently ensure that the policy is being adhered to.

Regularly checking that your employees are upholding the policy will ensure that the policy regulations are working, and will ensure that your employees are productive, secure, and empowered.

In an increasingly connected and collaborative work place, Office 365 is the perfect partner to a bring-your-own-device culture. With one package giving each user always up-to-date, online and offline versions of Office on up to five devices, your employees really can take their work anywhere.

For more information about Office 365 call us on 0808 1686 777 or visit the Fasthosts website: www.fasthosts.co.uk