One of the questions we get asked when dealing with a client is; should we give our staff mobiles? We always respond with; why do you think they need one?
There are a lot of pros and cons to giving staff work mobiles and also some things to consider if you do.
Pros and Cons of Supplying Company Mobiles
- Business-related apps – there are a lot of business apps to take advantage of which can enhance the working environment such as email, Skype, Dropbox etc. Also, with some apps it may be that a salesperson can complete a sale right there and then, using a mobile phone app (better yet, consider investing in a tablet for this kind of app) rather than calling the office and waiting for someone to take an order who may/may not be available.
- Remote working – a lot of businesses have salespeople, employees that travel for business, or perhaps even work from home; a company mobile enables them to stay in touch with the office, check emails, conduct work – all from their phone. It means that projects which require action aren’t waiting to be completed until you are physically “in the office.”
- Reduce office costs – if staff are working from home, it reduces the cost of office space and overheads and a mobile phone is a great way of keeping in contact.
- Safety – if a member of staff is prone to working unsociable hours, especially at the office or even travelling; a company mobile would enable them to call in an emergency such as attempted burglary, fire or if they have an accident.
- On Call – this is quite prominent in the I.T. industry where you have service desks working 24 hours. Staff may need to escalate a problem for a client but the relevant escalation point is on-call, so not based in the office. They need a contact their escalation point and a work mobile would be the best scenario.
- Distraction – mobiles are a distraction whether they belong to the company or not. It can simply be a notification of a text. Distraction can lead to mistakes but it may simply be that you consider implementing a business only usage with business mobile phones.
- Games/ Social Media – Some games require action in a certain period of time – it’s partly how they get you hooked! If an employee is on the company mobile, you wouldn’t necessarily think twice about asking them what they are doing because you’d assume they would be doing work. However, they could be covertly playing a game which wastes precious work time. Additionally, social media notifications could be distracting and encourage usage during work hours. You may want to set a clear expectation that the mobile would only be used for business social media accounts.
- Data security – if you allow usage of personal mobiles to do work, you could risk company data if their phone is stolen, hacked or if they misuse it. Depending on their access it could even breach data protection which puts you at risk of a legal battle. On the flipside, there are apps you can use to control the flow of sharing and to keep information secure but again, you may want to consider supplying a company mobile phone.
- Work balance – if you provide a means of contact with the expectation that your employees should be accessible, you need to ensure that there is no abuse of that. Core hours are still respected unless they are contracted to do out of hours or need to be contacted in an emergency. Everyone deserves a break from work otherwise you could end up with some very poorly employees.
Things to consider
Safety on the road – if your member of staff has a company mobile, ensure you are clear that road safety must prioritise over usage of the phone.
Work vs personal time –as an employer you have a responsibility to ensure the wellness of your staff isn’t adversely affected. Most businesses have a policy where staff are told to hand over all work mobiles before going on holiday so they have a restful holiday.
On-call – as we mentioned, it is prominent in the I.T. industry and it would be worth considering a rota for fairness and employee wellness. Additionally, ensure those who are escalating issues are aware that each time they do, the person who answers the call will get paid for the disruption so this could be a potential big cost to the business.
Allocation of phones – ensure that you are allocating people who need a company mobile and be very clear on that matter. You may end up having disgruntled staff who don’t need a mobile for business but want one because their colleague does have one.
Costs – What if a member of staff damages their mobile? Will you pay and get it fixed? How many times will you pay for it? Also, will they be allowed to use the phone for personal use? Will you absorb that cost, too? These are a couple of things to consider, too.
Ultimately, if you are considering using company mobile phones; yes there are a lot of pros and cons but it falls down to this one thing: Trust.
Do you trust them enough not to abuse it? Even if you do, you need to cover your back with relevant policies in place.