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Mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets to laptops, are everywhere. eMarketer estimates that 4.55 billion people worldwide will use a mobile phone in 2014. 1.75 billion of those users have smartphones.

Smartphones and other mobile devices are changing the way we do business. Company-owned mobile devices, BYOD policies, and virtualization are the new norm. And while these opportunities to work remotely afford the individual greater independence and flexibility, they also bring an array of complexity and responsibility.

To fully optimize and protect mobile usage in your organization you’ll need to understand the responsibilities and contributions of each professional involved.

If you’re the IT Officer

It’s very likely that one of your biggest concerns is security and privacy.  Whether the employer issues mobile devices or employees bring their own to work, employees and IT share dual responsibility for security. Safeguarding personal data against theft does not fall solely to the responsibility of the IT department; although it is their role to ensure that the infrastructure is secure and elements such as network-based firewalls are in place. That also leaves you with the responsibilities of general troubleshooting and ensuring that the proper network infrastructure is in place to support user demands. In other words, your role is to enable the use of each device, regardless of type, while striking a functional balance between ease of access and strength of network security across the organization.

If you’re an Employee

Mobile-equipped employees are expected to maintain an open line of communication with their coworkers and managers. By working from a mobile device, you’ve tacitly made yourself available 24x7. It’s up to the employee to manage their availability, delineate between work hours and personal time, and accordingly, strike a fair balance between the two.

Furthermore, the employee is responsible for the security of their particular device. Your IT department might have established a secure network for you to work on but that doesn’t exempt your device from personal data theft and misuse. If the confidential company data housed on your tablet is compromised, the responsibility to protect that data falls to you, the employee. In order to ensure that you’ve taken the necessary precautions, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Have I implemented the proper electronic safeguards?
  • Have I employed any dual-factor authentication measures?
  • Is my personal, home network secure?
  • Am I conducting activities in line with my organization’s standards?

The employee is ultimately the guardian of both personal data and the company’s. Both should be treated with equal importance.

If you’re a Manager 

The largest challenge faced by mobile managers is the control and supervision of a dispersed workforce. Just as the IT professional ensures network security and access, the manager ensures workflow and productivity.  As a supervisor, you are not responsible for executing the work conducted on a mobile device. You are however responsible for providing that it gets done, well and on time. In order to stay on the right track, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How do I collaborate and hold productive meetings when parts of my team are contributing remotely, potentially working different schedules?
  • How do I ensure that employees are meeting goals and deadlines?
  • How do I ensure that employees are treating company data responsibly?

For those reasons, managers should focus on fostering coordination, solving problems and empowering their employees – regardless of their employees’ situation.

If you’re in Legal or HR

The Legal and HR department has many issues on its plate in regards to managing mobile policies: ownership, indemnification and liability, background checks, monitoring, employee consent, audit concerns, and contractual obligations. In the event that a mobile device is stolen or lost, the company will want the legal and technical right to remotely wipe that device clean. HR must also ensure that policy and legal constraints are in place to hold the employee responsible for any accidental or criminal data loss.

Companies should maintain the right to monitor a device allocated for work-related purposes to ensure that there is no misuse.

Therefore, when it comes to mobile policy, Legal and HR should map out who is responsible for what and ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities and constraints.

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As remote workforces continue to grow and BYOD programs become ubiquitous, it is crucial for everyone to understand their place in the mobile ecosystem. If you would like to know more about evaluating your mobility services and security, contact us.