Employee Devices in the Workplace: Consider These Options for Productivity and IT Policy

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employee devices in the workplace consider these options for productivity and it policy isite computers
29 Mar, 2023
Reading Time: 5 minutes

As a small business owner or manager, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the various device policies you can implement in your workplace.

With the rise of remote work and the increasing reliance on technology, ensure your employees have the tools they need to be productive and secure.

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of having a device policy for small businesses, and explore the pros and cons of four common approaches: BYOD, CYOD, COPE, and COBO.


The Importance of a Mobile Device Policy in the Workplace

A device policy is crucial for several reasons, including increased productivity, improved cybersecurity, cost-savings, and greater control over company resources.

It can ensure your employees have access to the devices and applications they need to work efficiently while keeping company data secure from potential threats.

Additionally, strict device policies may also help with regulatory compliance (as with law firms, accountants, medical companies, and other regulated industries in South Africa). It can prevent unauthorised access to sensitive information, prevent data breaches, minimize the impact of disgruntled employees, and ensure that devices are properly updated and physically secured.


Overview: Four Types of Popular Mobile Device Policies and Approaches

Overview: Four Types of Popular Mobile Device Policies and Approaches

BYOD – Bring Your Own Device

BYOD allows employees to use their personal devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, for work purposes. This can save businesses money on hardware costs and give employees the flexibility to work with devices they are already familiar with.

Example of BYOD: A supervisor at a manufacturing plant uses his personal Android tablet for work-related tasks, such as emailing customers, ordering parts from supplier websites, and communicating with colleagues via MS Teams. The company IT department ensures that appropriate security measures, like password protection and remote wipe capabilities, are in place on his tablet.


  • Cost savings for the company
  • Potential for increased employee satisfaction and productivity
  • Flexibility for employees to choose devices they are comfortable with


  • High security risks due to personal devices being used for work
  • Increased IT support needs and expertise required for various device types
  • Employees are responsible for device costs and maintenance tasks


CYOD – Choose Your Own Device

CYOD offers employees a choice of devices from a list pre-approved by the company. This approach balances employee flexibility with IT control, allowing for streamlined ICT support and simplified device management.

Example of CYOD: An accounting firm offers its senior accountants a choice between three pre-approved laptop models each from different brands. An employee selects their preferred device, which is purchased by the company. These laptops are configured with necessary security measures and work-related software.


  • Some flexibility for employees, while maintaining IT control
  • Streamlined support and simplified management
  • Devices are owned by the company, and thus remain when the employee leaves
  • Cost savings through bulk purchasing


  • Limited device choices compared to BYOD
  • Semi-efficient deployment time
  • Upfront costs for purchasing devices and software


COPE – Company Owned/Personally Enabled

COPE devices are provided by the company but can be used for both work and personal purposes. This approach allows employees to carry a single device, while the organisation retains control over security and management.

Example of COPE: A lawyer is issued a company-owned iPhone. The iPhone is primarily intended for work-related tasks such as making VoIP calls to clients, accessing work emails, and using a voice recording app. However, the lawyer is also allowed to use the device for personal activities, like messaging friends and online banking. The company uses containerisation software to separate work-related data from personal data, ensuring privacy and security.


  • Significant IT control and authority
  • Secure and compliant for businesses with heavy compliance requirements
  • Minimal personalisation for employees, compared to more restrictive options
  • Cost savings through bulk purchasing


  • Limited usage capacity for employees
  • No flexibility in device choice
  • Maintenance and monitoring responsibilities for the organisation
  • Potentially costly for the company


COBO – Company Owned/Business Only

COBO - Company Owned/Business Only - iSite Computers

COBO devices are owned by the company and are strictly used for business purposes. These devices offer enhanced security and control but can be restrictive for employees, who may need to carry multiple devices for work and personal use.

Example of COBO: A mechanic is given a company-owned tablet, which is strictly for work purposes. The tablet is pre-loaded with work-related apps and software needed for his job, such as inventory management, job card software, and time tracking. Personal use is strictly prohibited, and the device is configured to block access to non-work-related apps and websites.


  • Complete IT control
  • Improved data security
  • Zero risk of mixing personal and organisational data
  • Lower data costs


  • No flexibility for users
  • Users must manage multiple devices
  • Organisation is fully responsible for devices and associated costs


BYOD, CYOD, COPE and COBO in a Nutshell: 

The table below summarises the key points for each device policy:

Policy Ownership Usage Flexibility for Users IT Control Security and Compliance Cost Efficiency
BYOD Employee Personal & Work High Low Moderate High
CYOD Organisation Personal & Work Moderate Moderate-High High Moderate
COPE Organisation Personal & Work Moderate High High Moderate-Low
COBO Organisation Work Only Low Very High Very High Low

Balancing Employee Privacy and Organisational Security

One of the key challenges when implementing a device policy is striking the right balance between employee privacy and organisational security. It’s essential to understand the implications of various device policies on employee privacy.

For instance, with BYOD, employees might worry about their personal data being accessed or monitored by the company. On the other hand, with COPE and COBO policies, employees might feel restricted in using their devices for personal tasks, knowing that the organisation has visibility into the device’s usage.

To address these concerns, it’s crucial to implement privacy-focused solutions, such as containerisation, which helps separate work-related data from personal data on a device. This approach allows employees to use their devices for personal tasks without fear of their private information being accessed or monitored by the company.

Make sure to have clear and transparent communication with your employees about the device policy, highlighting the steps your organisation is taking to protect their privacy. By addressing employee concerns and fostering trust, you can create a more comfortable and productive work environment, while still maintaining the necessary security measures to protect your organisation’s sensitive data.


Five Steps for Effective IT Policy Management

Strategies for Implementing and Enforcing Device Policies

When it comes to implementing and enforcing device policies, it’s crucial to follow best practices to ensure a smooth transition and foster employee buy-in. Start by creating clear and comprehensive device policies that outline acceptable usage, security requirements, and any restrictions.

Make sure to involve key stakeholders, such as IT, HR, and legal departments, in the policy-making process to ensure that all aspects are covered.

Once the policies are in place, provide employee training and awareness programs to help them understand their responsibilities and the rationale behind the rules. Regularly reinforce the importance of adhering to these policies and provide support for any questions or concerns employees might have.

Finally, continuously monitor and update the policies as needed to stay current with evolving technology, industry regulations, and employee expectations. By taking a proactive and well-planned approach to implementing and enforcing device policies, you can create a more secure, productive, and harmonious workplace.


No matter which policy you choose, it’s vital to establish clear guidelines and procedures to ensure that your employees understand their responsibilities and the expectations for device usage. Implementing a comprehensive device management solution can help you maintain security, compliance, and productivity across all devices in your organisation.

Not Sure Where to Start?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the various options or unsure about the best approach for your business, consider reaching out to a trusted manged IT company like iSite Computers.

We are offering a FREE assessment of your current IT.

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