Should You Supply Employees with Mobile Phones? The Pros and Cons Explained

Should You Supply Employees with Mobile Phones? The Pros and Cons Explained

Decision makers need to assess whether the benefits of employees using their own mobile phones outweigh the risks.

For many companies, from small organizations and startups to larger enterprises, enabling employees to use their own mobile phones in the workplace makes a lot of sense for improving productivity, promoting greater innovation, and cutting costs. However, decision makers need to also take into consideration the risks associated with allowing employees to use their own mobile phones in the field.

Allowing employees to use their own phones creates greater innovation and improves productivity in the workplace. Employees can access their work in the cloud from their personal devices, which they’re already glued to. Utilizing tools that are often used in the workplace such as Google Drive and Dropbox from their personal devices can make working easier for many employees.

Another positive aspect of allowing employees to use their mobile phones is that they can update their smartphones to the newest software available without having to wait on IT approval. Employee devices tend to be more cutting edge, so organizations benefit from the latest features and capabilities of these devices.

In addition, workers often pay for most or all the data and voice services, as well as other associated expenses for their personal phones. According to Good Technology’s 2nd Annual State of BYOD Report, half of the companies surveyed with BYO mobile phone policies in place said that employees are actually covering all costs, including device and data plans, associated with their smartphones. As a result, the enterprise avoids spending money on devices their workers don’t want in the first place, and workers are more likely to take better care of the devices.

Conversely, although allowing employees to use their own mobile phones does present an organization with promising advantages, decision makers need to weigh in the security concerns and loss of control over their IT hardware and ownership that comes along with allowing employees to use their own phones at work.

Allowing employees to use their own devices brings significant risks. Security is one of the biggest issues with using personal devices at work. A company has less control over devices it doesn’t own, making it easier for sensitive data to be compromised. Company-issued smartphones usually come with an acceptable-use policy, but it’s a lot more difficult for employers to tell workers what is acceptable use on their own smartphones.

There is also an issue of compliance and ownership when it comes to data. Businesses that fall under compliance mandates such as PCI DSS, HIPAA, or GLBA have certain requirements related to information security and safeguarding specific data. Those rules still must be followed even if the data is on a smartphone owned by an employee. If a worker is let go, or leaves the company of their own accord, segregating and retrieving company data can be a problem.

Over the past few years allowing employees to use their own mobile phones has undoubtedly gained traction in the workplace. Decision makers need to assess the advantages and disadvantages of allowing staff to use their own smartphones at work, while determining how this concept will impact their business model. Companies have seen success in adapting the BYO mobile phone trend, while others prefer a more traditional way of choosing IT for their employees.

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 | Senior Vice President of Technology & Engineering

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