Are company mobiles the perfect way to stay linked now that so many workers are accepting flexible working?

May 5, 2021

There’s a the consensus that desk or office-bound phone systems aren’t enough to keep businesses connected – either with their own employees or with their customer and communication networks.

Despite the increased versatility and coverage provided by new cloud and internet-based telecommunications options like VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), the nature of today’s business climate – where a growing amount of staff are based at home, on the road, or in remote locations – makes the use of mobile phones in any capacity a necessity rather than a privilege.

Knowing this, businesses must decide whether to encourage workers to use their personal phones for work purposes in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) situation or to invest in providing business cell phones to their employees. Here are some of the variables to consider when overcoming this conundrum.

The Right to Move

Staff in possession of a company-issued mobile device remain part of the enterprise telecommunications system and have access to its facilities when expanding their area of operations to meet clients and contacts in any place while travelling on official business (e.g., to attend a conference or as part of a sales run).

Members of an organisation that are not usually located in an office (such as home-based employees or remote staff) may be able to connect to the system if they are given company-issued cell phones.

Expanded Availability

One benefit of switching to business mobile devices is location-based freedom. Another benefit is freedom from time constraints.

Globalization, online shopping, and the dominant consumer-centric society, which demands service and help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, have all led to the death of the “9 to 5” working day. Enterprise users must be reachable at all times to answer questions or advertise their companies to current and prospective customers in every time zone.

Of course, there’s a catch: being available at all times will eat into a worker’s time outside of regular working hours, disrupting their work-life balance and negatively impact their efficiency. And, if they have a company mobile device, there’s always the temptation to use it for personal reasons.

Greater Centralised Control

However, providing workers with company-approved mobile devices gives companies more flexibility in a number of ways.

The choice of hardware and operating systems can be kept consistent, making troubleshooting, managing, and upgrading systems a more streamlined process for IT departments.

Monitoring, accounting, and line provisioning can all be managed from a single platform. This gives management greater control over data governance, performance evaluation, and the auditing of business or regulatory enforcement criteria.

Management of Costs

When employees are given business cell phones, the company has more control over costs, from the initial handset purchase to the numerous voice and data subscriptions available.

Most carriers sell dedicated packages and business plans to corporate customers, which can save a lot of money while also establishing specific guidelines for speech, data, and text use that employees must follow. Knowing that their business smartphone use will be monitored and included on the company’s monthly phone bill deters personal use of company devices during work hours.

Proprietary Rights

For information and contact data stored on business hardware, company-issued mobile devices may also explain issues of intellectual property and data ownership. With privately owned computers, this could become a controversial problem if, for example, an employee leaves the organisation and takes their client list (or other resources) with them.

From the start, a clear line must be drawn between what information and resources are solely held by the company, as well as a formalised policy on data access and rights to business contacts.

Workplace Regulations & Compensation Issues

Many jurisdictions’ labour laws mandate employers to pay additional wages to their employees for hours worked outside of those hours of the day (e.g., “time and a half,” “overtime,” etc). (typically based on traditional office hours). Usage of company phones – including business mobiles – can qualify, and unless employees are excluded from these extra payments for whatever reason, business mobile use may put a burden on company budgets that was not expected.

Considerations for Safety

Many countries’ legal authorities have also levied fines for using cell phones when driving or running heavy machinery, which is understandable. As a result, any injuries or deaths caused by texting on a company-issued computer in congested traffic (for example) may have significant financial consequences for the company.

A blanket ban on cell phone usage while in charge of a vehicle is the best alternative unless the company is willing to pay for a hands-free wireless microphone set on each system it issues – and implement a strictly implemented policy requiring headset use while driving (and even that might not be enough).

Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)

BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device, is often seen as a low-cost alternative to providing workers with company phones.

Though BYOD relieves the company of the expense of providing hardware, there are still costs to consider, such as whether employees should be reimbursed for using their personal devices after hours (and, if so, how much?).

Data protection is also a concern, particularly when it comes to corporate data being stored on personal devices and potentially exchanged or distributed to unauthorised third parties.

Spyware or malicious apps built without IT control can often compromise intellectual property and confidential corporate data.

Management of Mobile Devices (MDM)

Regardless of whether the devices are personal or corporate, an appropriate Mobile Device Management (MDM) strategy should be in place, establishing guidelines for the storage and use of enterprise data.

A “white list” of approved mobile apps should be developed, and devices should be monitored to ensure that only such apps are downloaded and used.

Obviously, the more devices you have to handle, the greater the difficulty and time and effort commitment. Stitch provide a cloud-based network that empowers companies by supplying UK-registered mobile business numbers that can be allocated to employees for use on their personal devices. MDM is built in so administration and management are coordinated through a single dashboard.

To sum it up…

Is it true that company mobile phones are the best choice for employees?

Smaller businesses can feel that a bring-your-own-device policy is more appropriate for their budget and human resources.

Larger businesses, on the other hand, would benefit more from the improved control and monitoring provided by company-issued devices because they have more invested in their intellectual property, data governance, and regulatory enforcement obligations.

Businesses of all sizes will clearly benefit from a solution that allows employees to use their own devices while also having dedicated business phone numbers and a central administration hub for account management, provisioning, usage analytics, and cost control. With mobile solutions from Stitch, which are hosted in the cloud, is an example of such a solution.

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