In the past decade or so, smartphones have become an essential tool for conducting business. Much like computers, printers, and stationery, it’s impossible for most people in this day and age to imagine a time when no one owned a mobile phone.
As well as making calls and sending messages, our phones are integral for email communication, video conferencing, and using the internet for research. And for this reason, more and more business owners are providing smartphones to their employees.
This way of thinking makes sense. You wouldn’t expect a member of staff to provide their own laptop or printer paper. So if they need a phone to conduct business effectively, this should be provided by their employer. Offering staff a secondary work phone for professional use has numerous benefits. It greatly reduces the risk of privacy and security breaches, as devices can be left in the office overnight and there is little risk that an employee will accidentally share confidential information. It also means you’ll have more control over how they use their phones and can monitor data sent and stored from the phone.
But rolling out a supply of staff phones is a complicated business, and there are several things you need to consider to make the most of your investment. To get you started, here are five tips for providing smartphones to your employees.
Choose the right device
There are thousands of smartphones available to buy so it can be a tough choice. To help you make the right decision, you need to think about how your employees are going to use their devices and which features are essential. If they only need to make calls and send emails then you can get away with a relatively basic smartphone. But if they are expected to participate in video calls, take high-quality photos, and use programs and apps that require a lot of processing power, you may need a higher-end model. Consider also whether it would be a worthwhile investment to include some rugged waterproof protective cases. This will result in a higher bill but it does protect you in the event of a clumsy employee dropping their phone.
Pick a plan
Once you’ve chosen your smartphone models, it’s time to pick a mobile phone plan that meets your needs. The most appropriate deal will depend on how and how often your employees use their devices. Ask yourself whether you need a SIM-only or contract plan, and how much data or minutes they will require each month. Read this article to help you decide between SIM-only vs contract plans. There are even small-business phone plans you can buy that might help you save money across the board.
Work-life balance is essential for the mental wellbeing of every single employee, so you can’t expect your team to be available on their work phones 24-7. Therefore, before rolling out your devices, you’ll need to set some guidelines for proper use. Make it clear to your staff whether or not they are expected to be responsive after work hours. If they are being paid overtime or on-call hours then this is a reasonable expectation, but if not, then it is unfair to ask them to be available after they’ve clocked out.
Pay attention to security
Using work devices is a much more secure way of conducting business than a bring-your-own-device policy, but there are still security risks to be considered. One of the crucial steps you’ll need to take is to ensure security upgrades and antivirus software are regularly installed and updated. This will reduce the risk of malicious cybersecurity attacks and keep your staff and data as safe as possible. You’ll also need to develop a policy to maintain security, including guidelines for setting passwords, encryption, data storage, and acceptable use.
One of the advantages of providing work phones is that you can monitor them. This allows you to ensure data is being stored and shared safely, and that no one is using their phones for inappropriate uses. But you must be completely upfront and transparent with your staff about this and the reasons for it. Otherwise, they may feel they are being scrutinised and not trusted to do their work properly.
In conclusion, it’s clear that there are numerous considerations to think about before providing your staff with smartphones for business use. The key decision factor is security, and you need to ensure you have chosen the best device and plan, and implement a policy for correct usage.