The workplace is changing. It has been changing for years, but office policies have largely not kept up with reality. As everyone carries personal technology devices with them everywhere they go, employees have increasingly been using those personal devices for work activity. From laptop computers used in the office and on the go to mobile devices that employees perform all their communication tasks on, the collaboration done on these systems has become vitally important to the success of many companies. But many companies have not updated their mobile collaboration policies to reflect this importance. But updating these policies does not need to be painful. By crafting a policy that focuses on increasing security and productivity, these devices can become an even bigger asset. The following should be considered as part of any office mobile collaboration policy.
As work output continues to spread to many devices, not all of which are owned by the company, the issue of data ownership becomes important. While it might seem obvious to management that the company owns all data produced using any company equipment, time, or resources, this is not always obvious to every employee. By writing it down, the employee knows that they may not do whatever they want with the data. This also will help clarify when certain security features must be used, as employees will not always use them unless instructed to with company data. This also helps protect the company if any disputes arise.
For all the benefits that mobile collaboration brings, it also brings a higher risk of data leaks. The exact rules needed to ensure data security depend on the system being used. If using a Microsoft infrastructure, a number of available tools exist within the system for keeping data secure across platforms. These professional tools should be used and mandated in the policy. If not using a Microsoft infrastructure, Mobile Device Management (MDM) security features should be used. Using Director Rights Management Services in conjunction with requiring MDM features in the software used can provide a good level of security. Use this instead of a Mobile Content Management System, as this does not always keep up with the changing environment of mobile collaboration.
Security also extends to using secure applications. Any mobile policy should mandate the types and, often, the specific applications that may be used. Thankfully, many widely used programs like Office 365 already have built in features to help with security. Since most offices use some version of this, make sure to use the backend management features to their full potential. Use something like Knox, made by Samsung, to separate personal and business files and applications. A business cannot control every application kept on a personal device, and this is a threat. Many applications collect a large amount of data from a device, and that data should not contain any company property. Even worse, sometimes innocuous apps may contain malware that can suck up even more information. With something like Knox, personal and business applications remain separate. The business applications can easily communicate with the backend and with other applications that the business allows, but cannot communicate with applications outside the environment. This keeps the employee from accidentally exposing company data through the latest mobile game.
Lastly, the cloud system used by the company must be secure. Many options exist, including OneDrive and Dropbox. Both of these offer corporate-focused versions of the product with a variety of security options. This will include a centralized location for office management, where a number of settings can be used to enhance security. Make sure that employees use strong passwords and do not stay signed in to these services, as someone maliciously gaining access would be able to steal a large quantity of data.
Once security and data leaks become less of a worry, the mobile policy can turn to the purpose of mobile collaboration: efficiency. While collaboration already increases this, a well-crafted policy can guide employees to even better work. The collaborative software used can cut out a lot of the most common time-wasting activities by presenting data to employees in a more intuitive manner. Again, Office 365 has a number of tools that help employees quickly find the needed information. Giving the needed information based on more intuitive methods than a file system allows both faster work and work that does not miss crucial data that may be hidden away.
Metadata also plays a large role in a good policy. It may be difficult to get employees to adjust to inputting relevant metadata, but it pays off in the long run. Though it initially takes more time, proper metadata makes the whole system more powerful and easier to use. The more useful data attached the more can be done with that data, both by employees and machine processing.
Making a well-suited mobile policy can seem daunting at first, but it mainly follows a straightforward process. Businesses should think about what they need, what they want to use collaboration for, how to secure that collaboration, and how to keep improving functionality in the future. The above concerns and solutions should act as a starting framework of things to consider. But it should not be a painful process. In the end, all the work put in to a cohesive policy will yield much better and more secure results. Updating the policy for modernity helps the business modernize with it.