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HR Bartender’s 5 considerations for a mobile device policy

Today’s guest post is courtesy of Sharlyn Lauby, better known as the HR Bartender. Sharlyn, William Tincup and I recently published this podcast about the growth of mobile devices in workforce management. In today’s post, Sharlyn expands on her recommendations to organizational leaders who are considering the adoption of mobile devices.  Read on and let us know – are there other factors to be considered?

According to mobiThinking, cellular subscriptions worldwide are at 6 billion. Yes, that’s billion. Companies are making significant revenue from mobile devices. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon, was quoted saying that “customers around the word have ordered more than $1billion USD of products from Amazon using a mobile device.” eBay has seen people purchase more than $5 billion in goods using their mobile. PayPal – $7 billion.

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. 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 wonderful to have employees own their equipment. The concept of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has its benefits. 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 are 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. Define the protocols for proper WiFi access.

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. Discuss the consequences when an employee violates the mobile guidelines. Is the company prepared to revoke the privilege if the policy is abused multiple times? Would the organization ever fire someone over egregious abuse of using a mobile device for work?

Keep in mind that any policy should be driven by your corporate culture and organizational goals. There are lots of right answers when it comes to using mobile devices at work. Discussing the options will create a better outcome. Be prepared to think of everything – even if you hope it won’t happen.

I know in human resources we’re 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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  1. Human resources needs to realize that attempts to ban mobile device usage in the workplace could be met with a whole lot of resistance.

    February 12, 2014

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