Are we witnessing a shift away from the “bring your own gear” rule?

Seen as a more efficient and cost-effective way to get work done, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has accelerated hybrid work patterns in the COVID era. But there are some signs that this is changing. Here, we explore the trends around BYOD and the reality of the risks – and whether it’s a way of working worth continuing to invest in.

BYOD is a risky business

Concerns about continuing to use BYOD devices are primarily focused on security. If you have 100 employees working on their own devices, that’s 100 potential entry points for sensitive data. As cyber threats become increasingly sophisticated, companies need to have solid security measures in place to feel confident in their BYOD policies.

BYOD was initially seen as a cost-saving measure for companies that no longer had to purchase and maintain devices for their employees, but the hidden costs of IT support and security for a wide range of devices have now been revealed.

Mixed messages

The data on BYOD adoption paints a mixed picture. We spoke with compliant communications platform provider Global Relay, which noted that anecdotally, roundtables and customer conversations indicate that enterprises are reconsidering their BYOD policies.

However, Global Relay’s recent Industry Insights Survey found that 53% of companies are BYODing rather than issuing company-issued devices – up from 36% in 2023. The report noted a shift in strategy, however – in 2023, 13% of companies said they had “no clear plan” for a BYOD policy, falling to 5% in 2024. Overall, the data suggests that while BYOD use may be growing, companies are better structured to support it.

“I’m a little surprised that BYOD is still at the forefront of changing corporate device policy. I’ve noticed in many of my roundtables that many companies are dividing their corporate populations into high-risk and low-risk—the high-risk population that’s being monitored is being moved to corporate devices, and BYOD is good enough for the rest.”

– Alex Viall, Chief Strategy Officer, Global Relay

The study also revealed a surprisingly mixed approach across the globe, with 54.5% of EMEA-based companies and 50% of global companies preferring corporate devices. BYOD was most popular in North America, with 63.4% saying they were BYODing and monitoring business-related communication channels. However, the majority of recordkeeping fines were in the US and focused on people using personal devices for communication.

The most high-profile cases have involved financial firms in the US – unsurprisingly, Chip Jones, vice president of compliance at Global Relay, commented: “Company-owned devices versus BYOD comes down to the three Cs – cost, compliance and convenience.” Recent enforcement actions regarding the non-compliant use of personal messaging apps appear to be having an impact on BYOD dynamics, with 45% of firms saying they are considering reconsidering their policies and 17% saying they are moving away from BYOD due to regulatory actions.

So does BYOD carry risks and are there ways to mitigate them?

Increasing compliance and awareness

The data suggests that BYOD is here to stay. As Chip Jones explains in the report, it’s simply cheaper for companies to let employees work on their own devices – and companies are now realizing that BYOD and company-issued devices can be equally compatible if the technology is managed correctly. Advances in compliance technology, combined with clearer expectations from financial regulators, mean that the BYOD landscape is now better understood as a compliant communication tool for companies. What’s more, there’s a clearer understanding among employees of how to use mobile devices in a safe, secure way – whether they’re personal or company-issued.

Vendors like Global Relay offer solutions that enable coworkers and customers to communicate securely across mobile devices, desktops, voice, video, and instant messaging. The company offers BYOD-compliant communications through a collaboration app that gives employees the freedom to BYOD and keep their business and personal relationships separate while meeting record-keeping requirements.

BYOD is evolving, not disappearing. Its implementation must evolve to address concerns around compliance, security, and governance. The key to successful BYOD is balancing flexibility and control in a compliant environment that is supported by the right solutions.