Thursday, 26 September 2013

IT shortcuts can cause headaches

A growing number of companies are allowing staff to connect their own IT devices to the company’s network in a bid to save costs and improve efficiency.

But the move could also be costing businesses lost time, and increasing their risk of penalties, according to our employment law expert John Mehtam.

“Depending on which report you read, the idea of bringing your own device to work is either hailed as a time and cost-saving breakthrough, or a risky waste of effort,” said John.

“Our view is that encouraging staff to use their own IT equipment at work is fine until something goes wrong. If your network crashes, you’ll lose productive time and suffer a great deal of stress, especially if you are the director of IT.”

John said: “But there’s more to worry about than that. If there is a breach of data protection rules, it is usually the company directors who are liable, and this could include tough penalties. So if you allow staff to use their own devices and your firm is registered under the Data Protection Act, you must take steps to ensure that any data stored on their devices is secure.”

He said the decision to allow staff to use their own hardware boiled down to three main questions; will it reduce the IT investment bill, will it improve and encourage more productive use of time, or will time be wasted transferring apps and data between company and non-company machines?

“If, after considering the pros and cons, you are happy to allow staff to use their own IT equipment, make sure you issue a firm policy on how this will work.

“The director in charge of IT should be consulted over every tablet, phone or laptop an employee wants to connect to the company’s network. And the business should emphasise that it will not pay either the running costs, or repair bills, for personal devices which are also used for work purposes.”