5 Considerations For a Mobile Device Policy

by Sharlyn Lauby on February 14, 2012

According to mobiThinking, cellular subscriptions worldwide are at 6 billion. Yes, that’s billion. Companies are making significant revenue from mobile devices: Google $2.5 billion last year. eBay expects customers to buy/sell $8 billion this mobile, smartphone, policy, workforce, wireless, network, training, social media, communicationyear and PayPal expects to see $7 billion in mobile payments.

When that much money is changing hands over mobile devices, marketing departments take notice. And human resources needs to realize that attempts to ban mobile device usage in the workplace could be met with a whole lot of resistance. And perhaps for good reason. So maybe it’s time to consider drafting some guidelines on the responsible use of mobile devices in the workplace.  If you do, here are a handful of things to consider:

Ownership: From a company perspective, it sounds so wonderful to have employees own their equipment. The concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is catching on. But it also raises some questions about who is financially responsible for equipment maintenance and what happens if the equipment is lost or stolen. Another consideration if employees will be expected to use their own equipment, is what are defined reimbursable and non-reimbursable expenses when it comes to home wireless routers, aircards, apps, etc?

Compatibility: The great part of allowing employees to use their own equipment is they know how to use it. This translates into greater productivity. The challenge internally becomes how to make sure all these different devices are compatible with existing company systems. Businesses might not be gaining any advantages if they have to create lots of workarounds to accommodate different devices.

Network Access: Employees need to know what information they can access and from where. There will be information that’s acceptable to access on public WiFi and other data that should not.

Security: Training should be conducted to remind employees about confidential and proprietary information. Maybe certain types of work cannot be done in public places, such as coffee shops.  Along with basic technology security like how to create good passwords.

Terms and Agreements: Outlining the procedure for an employee resignation, termination or layoff on the front end can avoid confusion and misunderstandings later. If employees violate the mobile guidelines, will any type of disciplinary action be issued? Or will this policy be considered a benefit of sorts with the possibility of being revoked if not followed properly?

Keep in mind that any policy should be driven by your corporate culture. There are lots of right answers when it comes to using mobile devices at work. Discussing the options will create a better outcome.

I know in human resources we are often accused of creating too many policies. But giving employees some valuable guidance on the best way to use their mobile devices will help both the employee and the company. This is one of those times when it’s best to share what “should be done” versus “what not to do”.

Should organizations give employees mobile device guidelines?  If so, is there anything else you would add to the list?

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