O2 has been mixing it up lately when it comes to how and where employees work and the tools they use to get things done.

Recently the UK telecoms company experimented with a flexible working pilot which saw 2500 people sent away from the company’s headquarters in Slough to work from home. It paid off too, commuting time and Co2 emissions were down as a result.

Today on the O2 blog there is a post looking at the latest move on ‘consumerisation’. According to O2, this means that employees should be able to use their own devices at work with access to company email and intranet.

O2 says that within three months of implementing a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy, around one thousand employees are using their own devices.

The upshot of the experiment according to Andy Roberts, Head of IT Workplace at O2 is an increase in productivity and employee morale.

This is understandable. Even if employees are not accessing work services, the element of trust is bound to be an improvement.

Morale aside though, the real pickle for employers considering allowing their staff to bring their own is data security. There’s not much point in opening a tiny bit of access which does not include the tools employees need, but there are of course security issues that require some proper planning.

Where’s the data?

As it happens, Varonis Systems, which makes data governance software, has done some research and posted it on the company blog. The findings show that 67% of respondents remarked that senior management in their organisations did not know where all the company data is kept and 74% reported that they didn’t have a process for tracking which files had been placed on third-party cloud spaces or storage devices.

Individuals from 400 companies took part in the survey and Varonis Systems points out that with BYOD and file synch could leave data to be lost, misplaced or accessed by unauthorised people.

There is also the issue of data compliance for individuals who leave a company and could be taking information with them. Checking this after the fact can be tricky without clear communication about clearing personal devices.

O2 has thought about this carefully and posted some good advice for companies who are considering BYOD. Security, legality and funding are important, so proper research on which secure systems might work best is worth the time and effort.

O2 says that it is worth checking who is eligible to join and which devices should access a network. Creating a clear policy about this will also be helpful to staff.

The system that O2 put in place has three tiers for varied amounts of access and different device connection from basic needs to desktop virtualization that works between business and personal devices.

As this trend increases, it is important to make sure that systems are implemented in ways that are useful as well as secure. It’s one thing to have a happy work force, but quite another to put sensitive data in the wrong hands.

Image Credit: Mabahamo