With everything that has happened all over the world over the past few years, especially COVID-19 and the Great Resignation, the workplace landscape has shifted significantly. Employees are demanding more flexibility in how they work, creating higher expectations from employers, and leaving jobs that aren’t cutting it.
Because of this, to improve retention, employers are putting more focus on providing employees with the freedom and flexibility that they want. Part of this means changing the rules around what types of devices can be used for work purposes as well as how they’re managed. The acronyms BYOD, CYOD, and COPE have gained more traction across the workforce recently, and it’s important to understand each one so you can make an informed decision on which is right for your employees.
Understanding BYOD and CYOD
We have grouped BYOD and CYOD together due to the flexibility and freedom they both give employees, compared to other more rigid device strategies such as COPE (corporate-owned, personally-enabled) and COBO (corporate-owned, business-only).
BYOD definition: bring your own device. BYOD allows employees to use the personal device(s) they own for work purposes.
CYOD definition: choose your own device. CYOD usually involves a predetermined list of approved devices put together by an organization, from which employees can choose what they prefer.
Advantages of BYOD
Flexibility and Convenience: With BYOD, there are virtually no restrictions or limitations on device usage, making it a fan favorite among employees. It’s convenient for users to store everything they need in one place, from a device already in their possession. BYOD is also convenient for organizations that don’t want to deal with the costs and logistics behind providing devices to employees.
Improved Productivity: BYOD has the fastest deployment time of all device types, because the device in question is likely already purchased and in-use by the employee. This means that users can be productive right away, instead of waiting for a new device to be given to them and configured.
Device Familiarity: Not only is productivity higher on devices that people are already familiar with, but BYOD also means there’s no training required for the device itself. This saves IT time and resources that they can spend elsewhere and allows users to be productive from day one of BYOD implementation.
Cost Savings: Typically, BYOD is the most inexpensive device strategy. If you go this route, you won’t have to purchase a new device for each new employee. Service and wireless carrier management costs will also be minimal.
Happier Workforce: People tend to feel happier when they have choices and flexibility in their work. Providing new hires with the option to use their own devices for work will give them immediate feelings of freedom and familiarity that are then associated with your company. Giving the BYOD option to existing employees might also be the breath of fresh air that they’ve been waiting for.
Advantages of CYOD
Some Flexibility and Convenience: Though BYOD provides far more flexibility, CYOD is the runner up in this category. Being able to choose a device (even if it’s from a pre-made list) is a great way to make users feel like they’re in more control of how they work.
Potential Familiarity: Device familiarity will depend on what spread of devices and operating systems you offer to employees. It’s likely that they will feel drawn to at least one device on your list based on familiarity and experience with that brand or OS. This increases productivity and makes employees feel more comfortable with the device they end up with.
Streamlined Support and Simplified Management: BYOD can be difficult to manage due to the sheer number of different devices that exist. However, CYOD provides users with the power of choice, while forcing them to stay within the parameters that IT establishes. Knowing exactly which devices are used across the organization greatly simplifies device management for IT. Plus, support capabilities are widened when the device spread isn’t overwhelmingly large.
IT Retains More Control: With the CYOD approach, IT maintains control over the devices from the very beginning. The devices are often corporate-owned, so IT can configure them in a way that’s secure and compliant before the device even gets to the end user. On top of that, a pre-made list of approved devices allows IT to proactively create a management plan for each so that no surprises surface later on.
Disadvantages of BYOD
Security and Privacy: The primary disadvantages of BYOD revolve around security and privacy concerns. Though these can be mitigated through the use of a holistic device management strategy that promotes good security practices and compliance, the idea of an employer monitoring data on BYOD devices can be unsettling for employees. To calm these fears, lay out the details of what information you will monitor and how in a comprehensive BYOD policy.
Shadow IT is another security issue with BYOD. For example, 80% of workers admit to using SaaS apps at work without getting approval from IT. It’s even more likely that those using personal devices will go down this path, because they have the freedom to download and use what they want, compared to using a more heavily configured and restrictive corporate-owned device.
Software Issues: The two main software issues organizations run into in respect to BYOD are software patch management problems and software installation problems. With a diverse fleet of devices that aren’t corporate-owned, it can be difficult to get visibility into patch status and convince users to install patches on BYOD devices, which can have devastating security implications.
Software installation can also be difficult, because the software chosen by the organization might not be suitable for certain systems or the user might experience problems with installation that they don’t know how to solve on their own.
Data Retrieval: Removing data from a personal device can be daunting and difficult if you’re unprepared. To avoid this, include a section in your BYOD policy regarding what happens with company data on an employee-owned device when that employee leaves the company. Employees’ personal data must be protected, so making this process as seamless and non-invasive as possible is ideal.
Lack of Uniformity: The lack of consistency and uniformity inherent in BYOD can make devices difficult to manage and configure, which can be a burden on IT teams. Some users have brand new devices, while others have devices from 10 years ago, which can make life difficult for IT, even with a strong mobile device management (MDM) system in place.
Supporting every device employees own can also be extremely time-consuming and costly, because it’s impossible to have a specific process in place for each, especially in large companies with hundreds to thousands of different devices.
Distractions: Employees using BYOD devices might experience more distractions throughout the workday because all of their personal apps and resources live on the same device that they use for work. If this begins to affect work performance, it might be time to tell the user they need to change something or ultimately switch to a corporate-owned device.
Disadvantages of CYOD
Limited Device Choices: Compared to BYOD, CYOD gives employees less freedom with device choice. However, compared to the other options of corporate-owned devices (COD), CYOD is much more flexible. This is only a con for users, as CYOD is easier on IT compared to BYOD.
Semi-Efficient Deployment Time: CYOD involves slower deployment compared to BYOD, but it involves faster deployment compared to other COD strategies. Essentially, CYOD is the option to use when you want to meet employees in the middle without stretching the IT team too thin.
Upfront Costs: CYOD includes more upfront costs compared to BYOD. These costs include purchasing the devices, getting them to remote users, hardware repair, and sometimes more. However, you might be able to get a bulk discount on devices depending on how many of each you intend to purchase.
Now, let’s dive into COPE, which is typically a more structured, less flexible device approach.
COPE definition: corporate-owned, personally-enabled. COPE devices are purchased and owned by the organization, but they are also enabled for limited personal use.
Advantages of COPE
Ultimate IT Control: COPE devices give IT a generous amount of control and authority which lessens the day-to-day burden IT feels when managing devices.
Secure and Compliant: Out of the three devices strategies in this article, COPE is the best option for companies with heavy compliance and/or security requirements. The device usage restrictions that come with COPE devices keep users in check and help IT segregate, monitor, and manage organizational data. It’s much easier to audit uniform corporate-owned devices compared to diverse BYOD or CYOD devices.
Minimal Personalization: COPE devices allow users to access certain personal resources, which cannot be done on the more restrictive corporate-owned, business-only devices that some organizations use. Though this may not seem like much, it can feel a lot more flexible to end users than some other options out there.
Cheap or Free for Users: With BYOD, some employees might feel cheated if they are expected to use their own device for work purposes, because they purchased it on their own and they pay for the ongoing bills associated with it. However, COPE devices come at little to no cost to employees, which can be an important benefit to some.
Cost-Savings Potential: When you buy the same device in bulk, you’ll find that sizable corporate discounts are available, saving you a chunk of money. This is important to keep in mind if you’re leaning toward a more restrictive device strategy.
Disadvantages of COPE
Limited Usage Capacity: While this can be an advantage for the organization, less freedom on devices is a disadvantage for employees. Plus, if you go the COPE route, you’ll need to implement detailed usage policies that users are expected to follow to keep the device and the data it holds secure.
Lack of Flexibility: COPE provides users with little to no say in the device they get. While some people might not care, others might be unhappy with the operating system or type of device they’re given. If they’re used to something completely different, there will be a learning curve involved that can hinder productivity.
Maintenance and Monitoring: Because COPE devices are corporate-owned, the organization is fully responsible for maintaining and monitoring them. This can be a heavy lift for IT, but it does go a long way toward improved security and compliance.
Can Be Costly: COPE devices involve the highest costs of all the models in this article. Purchasing devices for every user in your organization is pricey, but you can often find good deals on bulk orders. The organization will be responsible for device maintenance and repairs in the future, which are added costs to consider.
Slow Deployment Time: COPE devices have the slowest deployment time frame compared to BYOD and CYOD. This is because the devices are not already in the hands of employees, they must be configured in a very specific way to keep corporate and personal data separate, and then they must be distributed to employees. After that, some employees may need training on how to use the device, especially if they’re used to a different OS or brand.
BYOD & CYOD vs COPE: Which Is Right for Your Organization?
The decision to implement BYOD, CYOD, or COPE device strategies within your organization needs to be made based on your priorities, capabilities, and budget.
BYOD is best for organizations that have a flexible device management solution in place that can handle monitoring, managing, and securing a diverse fleet of devices. BYOD is also a good solution for organizations working within a tighter budget.
CYOD is best for organizations that want to retain more control over what types of devices employees use while providing users with some flexibility. CYOD usually falls into the mid-budget range.
COPE is best for organizations that want to retain significant control over the devices used in the organization, especially companies with a heavy focus on security and compliance. COPE is the most expensive approach, but it provides IT with many benefits.
A Mixed Approach
These approaches are not mutually exclusive. Your device approach can involve one or more of these strategies depending on the department and location of users. For example, it’s common for organizations to offer Mac and Windows laptops (a CYOD approach), as well as a BYOD approach for those that already have a device at their disposal that they want to use for work. However, they might require that software developers use macOS based on their role (a COPE or COBO approach).
Consider the stage your organization is at, and choose whatever device option(s) you prefer. Be sure to create written policies no matter which way you go, and find ways to communicate effectively with your employees to ensure that you’re on the same page. Learn more about effectively managing devices with JumpCloud.