New legislation in Europe and the US could influence BYOD strategy
BYOD schemes are now widely used by businesses of all sizes but the increase in the use of mobile devices for enterprise is now the subject of scrutiny, for a variety of reasons. The fact that our technological capability is increasing rapidly is positive, but it also means that legislation concerning its use is rapidly rendered obsolete.
One area in which there has been a legal lag has been the business use of mobile devices; however, in recent months it appears this is starting to be addressed. As growing numbers of employees are now expected to use their own mobiles for work as part of the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, a number of concerns have come to the fore. One of the matters currently being explored in Europe – particularly in Germany – is that employees are not able to relax outside work hours, due to the fact they are still available to receive work-related emails and calls. With speculation that this could lead to stress, burn-out and an increase in mental illness among the population, it’s little wonder that large organisations including Volkswagen, BMW and Deutsche Telekom have already taken steps to reduce the burden by banning out-of-hours communications unless strictly essential.
Last year, the German employment ministry banned managers from contacting staff outside hours unless absolutely necessary and has stated that managers must keep the number of staff contacted in such a way to an absolute minimum. The German labour minister at the time, Ursula von der Leyen, called upon employers of all sizes to ensure that policies concerning out-of-hours contact are completely clear. Meanwhile, France introduced rules earlier this year allowing employees to ignore work emails and calls after hours in both the digital and consultancy industries. None of which bodes well for the future of BYOD.
With other countries likely to follow suit, the trend in reducing out-of-hours contact is a concern for some small to medium sized businesses, which frequently rely upon the extra-curricular communication for their continued success.
Across the pond, there is yet more news with direct implications for BYOD: the State of California has ruled that, from September 11, employers must pay staff stipends towards their mobile costs if they require devices to be used for business. This will apply regardless of whether an employee has a personal mobile package with free calls and/or reduced data charges. Understandably, this news has upset employers, who had not previously budgeted for such costs and who are now left trying to work out just how much constitutes “reasonable reimbursement” for employees. They also need to take into account that their policies must be transparent, so that they can be understood by all members of staff.
Detailed evaluation of the California ruling, and its potential impact upon BYOD in organisations of various sizes, has been undertaken by industry experts such as Ralph Rodriguez at Blue Hill Research and Hyoun Park at Datahive Consulting. A report published by Blue Hill expressed concerns not only for businesses facing new charges, but also for providers of Mobile Device Management (MDM).
Despite the concerns raised about the ruling, the Telecom Expense Management Industry Association (TEMIA) and other analysts have been keen to point out that the ruling does not mean the end is nigh for BYOD – just that businesses will henceforth have to implement appropriate policies to ensure correct use of the strategy. For this reason, the services of TEM and MDM vendors may become more vital than ever before in providing details of employee device use and in offering advice concerning appropriate compensation. One probability is fairly certain: rules governing BYOD will spread to different US states, and may are more than likely to be introduced in other countries.
BYOD can allow both employees and employers increased freedom and can improve efficiency and speed of urgent communication. However, it’s important for any organisation seeking to benefit from such plans to keep up to date with changing legislation in their country, to ensure that mobile technology is used for mutual benefit and under agreed terms.
Thanks to Stuart Haining for the post !