personal gadgets at work wifiIt cannot be avoided that personal aspects of our lives encroach professional areas and vice versa.  Sometimes the intention is intentional and at times it is unconsciously done.  Take for example office supplies. In many cases, an employee may not be aware that he or she has placed writing pens inside their bag when leaving from the office and use the same instrument to write down personal notes at home.  While there are office policies governing the use of office supplies for personal use, can the same be done when personal items are also used for office work?  This brings us now to the question of whether it is alright for an employee to hook up personal gadgets such as an iPhone, iPad, and iPod to company Wi-Fi connection.

Why is it Okay?

As an employee, you are entitled to several perks and benefits and that includes access to Wi-Fi connection, provided the employer allows it. But just like other benefits, the employee has a responsibility not to abuse and exploit the privilege by accessing untrustworthy sites including online sites which promote values opposite to what the company is promoting and engaging in personal online activities that do not affect work and even disrupts it.  In practice, companies do allow employees to use company Internet connection but with reservations.  The company has to set up firewall mechanisms to prevent employees from accessing social network sites or implementing policies with regards to use and misuse of Wi-Fi connections.  It is the responsibility of the company to set up protection and must always assume that even if there are work policies that deals with it, employees will still attempt to have it their way such as through backdoor access.

Why is it not Okay?

It is a competitive world out there.  You will never know what type of malware employees can acquire while browsing sites using their personal gadgets such as iPhone, iPad, and iPod. The employee might be putting confidential information at risk to the detriment of the company. The employee might also expose the whole system to several kinds of vulnerabilities that may hamper the whole business operation.  If there is an absence of policies that governs web access via personal gadgets using work Internet connections, the company could be sending different signals to their staff.  On the other hand, there might be other reasons which the company should look into if an employee spends a huge amount of time browsing the web using business Wi-Fi connections; there may be redundancies involved or an attitude problem with the staff.

What Should Be Done

It’s dependent on the industry you are in. In some cases businesses cannot ban employees from bringing personal gadgets to work.  You cannot even forbid them not to use such during office hours.  This issue merits an action though.  However, any type of action plan should be agreed upon by both the organisation and the employees.  When instituting rules for Wi-Fi connection, the employees must be consulted and should have a voice as to what type of policies must be implemented and how it is followed and monitored.  The employees must own the policy as it affects them.

Let’s get some common sense from both employers and employees.