If you’re mulling over whether or not to issue phones to your workforce, there are obviously a number of things you have to weigh before making a final decision. On the one hand, there are good reasons for moving forward with a plan to distribute smartphones to employees. On the other hand, there are good reasons for implementing a bring our own device (BYOD) policy that allows workers to use their personal phones for business purposes.
In order for you to decide for yourself which path to take for your company, here is a look at the pros and cons of giving employees smartphones or cell phones and, a guide detailing how to roll out these devices if you ultimately decide to go that route.
Pros & Cons
Compatibility (Pro): The compatibility is one reason to distribute phones to workers rather than to let them use their own phones for business purposes. When you choose the carrier, the phone manufacturer and model, and the operating system, you’ll have a level of control that would be virtually impossible with a BYOD policy in place. With greater control, you’ll make things easier on your IT department as it looks to safeguard the devices.
Multiple Phones (Con): One of the problems with issuing smartphones or cell phones to your workforce is that workers who already have smartphones or cell phones might not appreciate having to carry a personal phone and a business phone wherever they go. This does not mean, however, that all of your employees have a phone. Consider that Pew Research Center says that only 77% of adults in the U.S. owned a smartphone as of November 2016. Thus, while you can’t be certain that all of your workers own their own phone, you can be sure that most of them do. It would therefore make sense to find out the phone penetration rate before deciding.
Cost Reduction (Pro): You could face higher costs if you have a BYOD strategy where you reimburse your workers for any calls or work they conduct from their own phones. The reason for this is that you’ll be footing the bill for a number of plans with varying rates. Since there are an abundance of carriers competing for business customers, giving out company phones means you harbor the ability to negotiate a better-than-advertised rate.
Higher IT Costs (Con): If you have a BYOD policy, your workers will be expected to maintain their own smartphones or cell phones. However, if you distribute phones, your company will be responsible for maintaining phones and for fixing them if they malfunction. This burden on your IT department could drive up costs.
Round-the-Clock-Availability (Pro): While companies should aim to provide employees with a healthy work-life balance, some jobs require that employees be available around the clock. If this is the case at your business, distributing company phones makes it easier to ensure that employees are available for calls outside of normal business hours.
Ongoing Technology Upgrade Expenses (Con): Remember that issuing phones to employees isn’t a one-and-done sort of deal. You’ll need to upgrade the hardware perhaps up to every couple of years. Technology and capabilities change, so you need to ensure that you don’t fall behind too far in terms of model years if you want your workers to be able to efficiently use their phones. Approximately 83% of global workers believe that technology innovations have enabled them to up their productivity, but outdated phones that are sluggish or that perform less than optimally can curtail or eliminate that productivity. Depending on the size of your company and the budget you’re working with, it might be cost-prohibitive to pursue a strategy that requires investing in a new batch of phones every two or so years.
Monitoring (Pro): Giving your employees smartphones or cell phones can help to make them more accountable since you’ll be able to monitor the way that the phones are used. Company issued phones make it easy to monitor the use of voice and data, place limits on what sorts of apps workers can download on their phones, and more. This can encourage transparency and provide your business with greater control with how company phones are used by workers. However, it’s important to be transparent about mobile device monitoring with employees.
Decreased Satisfaction (Con): You can be certain that some workers will be dissatisfied with any policy that includes monitoring. This is one of the reasons why many employees prefer a BYOD policy. One study, in fact, suggests that workers are more productive when they are permitted to use their own devices on the job over using company-issued devices.
Secure Data (Pro): Another key benefit to giving employees phones is that your business will have greater control over securing corporate data through measures that include requiring a robust antivirus software program, regular updates to obtain the most current software, routine backups of device content, strong passwords and periodic password changes, and passcodes.
After considering the pros and cons, you’ll need to determine whether or not to give your employees phones. If you decide in favor of doing so, you’ll need a plan that includes determining which workers need smartphones or cell phones.
It’s important to know that while it would be nice to assume that all workers will use their workplace-issued phones responsibly, this is not always the case. It makes sense, therefore, to a formal policy that provides practical guidelines to govern how smartphones and cell phones provided by the company to employees ought to be used.
Workplace Phone Policy
Here are some practical tips that should be part of any phone policy. Be sure that employees sign off on it before they are granted company-issued phones.
- Employees must refrain from using company phones while operating a motor vehicle
- Employees cannot use a smartphone or cell phone for gaming during work hours
- It is prohibited for an employee to use a company smartphone for personal tasks
- Employees should avoid using phones during work meetings
- Company phones are not to be used to record confidential data
- Employee’s personal calls should, as much as possible, be made only during lunch breaks or any other breaks scheduled throughout the day
As part of your phone policy, you must also clearly spell out any penalties that may range from phone privileges being revoked to possible job termination if the offense is serious enough to warrant such action.
So, should your business give employees company phones? The bottom line is that this decision is up to you. But as you can see, there are some good reasons for going ahead with such a strategy. In order for it to work, you’ll need to set up clear guidelines so that employees understand their rights and responsibilities with regards to company phones.