Do We Really Need Acceptable Use Policies For Workplace Technology?
Recognizing the need to be proactive, many organizations are establishing acceptable use policies for workplace technology. An acceptable use policy (AUP) is a document that outlines the rules and restrictions employees must follow in regard to the company’s network, software, internet connection and devices. It explicitly states how employees should and shouldn’t use employer-provided technology and personal mobile devices in workplaces with bring your own device (BYOD) policies. If you’re considering instituting an acceptable use policy for workplace technology, here’s what you need to know.
The Benefit of Acceptable Use Policies For Workplace Technology
In light of the massive data breaches experienced by numerous companies in recent years, it’s not surprising that cyberattacks and data fraud or theft are two of the top five risks CEOs are most likely to face. And it’s not external threats business leaders need to worry about most. IT management software provider Ipswitch found that nearly 75 percent of security breaches are the result of employee actions, either deliberate or accidental.
An employee’s ability to intentionally or inadvertently compromise the security of your company is one of the biggest reasons to consider implementing an acceptable use policy. An AUP ensures employees understand their responsibilities and rights as well as the company’s expectations of them regarding technology in the workplace. It also helps educate employees on how to identify potential threats and keep themselves safe from cybercriminals.
A detailed, well-organized and easy-to-understand AUP can considerably reduce your company’s risk of cyberattacks, data breaches, and compliance violations. It also enables your company to properly hold employees accountable when they violate acceptable use policies.
Potential Issues With AUPs
Acceptable use policies for workplace technology can help save your company from unnecessary headaches, but they can also create issues if drafted improperly.
For example, if the policy outlines specific repercussions for certain actions, it leaves little to no room for interpretation or discretion. If two employees committed the same infraction under different conditions and your company decided to fire one but not the other, the terminated employee has grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. That’s why the wording of your AUP should provide you with the flexibility to handle violations on a case-by-case basis.
An AUP can help reduce your company’s vulnerability to cyberattacks by limiting employee access to certain websites. But if your regulations are too strict, it can negatively affect the employee experience and, in turn, productivity and retention.
Of course, you want to limit opportunities to put your company at risk of a data breach or virus. But not allowing employees to check their personal email or take a quick mental break to read a news article gives the impression you don’t trust them to be responsible, which can seriously hurt morale. Plus, research shows that giving employees a reprieve from their work can substantially improve their performance.
How to Draft an Effective Acceptable Use Policy
Here are some guidelines for creating an AUP that is easy to enforce and easy for employees to follow:
- Clarify the full scope of the AUP, including which technologies it does and does not cover and the situations in which it’s applied, with examples of real-life scenarios.
- Give employees reasons why they should adhere to the rules and standards of the AUP instead of just telling them it’s required.
- Explain how the AUP will be enforced, including the consequences employees face for failure to follow it, and what disciplinary measures will be taken.
- Don’t be overly specific to the extent that you create unintentional loopholes. For example, use broader terms like “mobile devices” instead of “iPhones and iPads.”
- Use language that even an individual not in your industry could easily understand and define industry- and company-specific words, phrases, and acronyms.
- Track all revisions made to the AUP along with the date(s) on which the change was made and when it was communicated to the workforce.
- Ensure the AUP protects the company without impeding an employee’s ability to do their job or interfering with business goals.
- Do not attempt to address every hypothetical event or threat; focus only on the risks employees are most likely to encounter.
- Have both the human resources department and your company’s legal advisor review the AUP to make sure it is lawful and doesn’t violate the rights of employees.
- Regularly review and update the AUP to guarantee all current technology and risks are addressed and no obsolete technology is referenced.
For many companies, it makes sense to have acceptable use policies for workplace technology. For others, it may not.
But if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that workplace technology should be accessible and so easy to use that employees don’t even have to think about it.
When technology isn’t easy to use, employees find work-arounds—including downloading various third-party applications that haven’t been properly vetted.
iOFFICE Hummingbird’s workplace app empowers employees by placing secure, connected technology directly into their hands.
With the Hummingbird app, employees can quickly find what they need to be productive, whether it’s a colleague, an available room or the ability to request service. They can also receive important announcements like road closures, menu offerings and company outings, which keeps them connected to their workplace.
If you give employees the kind of technology they expect in the workplace, they’re a lot less likely to seek out other solutions that could compromise network security.
Ready to see how Hummingbird can take your productivity to new heights? Request a demo today.