Safeguarding Your Business Phones Before You Hand Them Out to Employees

No matter what business you’re in, giving your employees their own cell phones to use for work-related activities can help increase productivity, improve customer relations and improve communications between peers and co-workers worldwide. But it’s important to draw the line between personal and business use; unfortunately, many employees take advantage of a company’s generosity by using their business phone for personal use; and, many companies overstep their bounds by demanding too much personal time from their employees. There are some steps you can take, as a responsible employer, to make sure that both your assets and your employees are protected:

Cases and Screen Protectors

It’s happened to us all at one time or another; we drop our phones on the ground, sit on them, or *gasp* drop them in the toilet. Protective casings and screen covers can help safeguard the phones from being rendered completely unusable. There are many designs and styles to choose from and the cost won’t break your operating budget. For example, the website carries an array of cases and screen protectors to help you protect your company-owned phones (and other devices) thus protecting your bottom line. Phones are expensive to replace, not to mention replacing or reloading the data that is stored on each phone.

Devise Clear Usage Policies

This is among the most important activities you can do to protect your business and sensitive data. You need to set clear policies regarding the use of the business phone. Can it be used for personal use, and if so, how much? Are employees allowed to download or make changes to the configuration, and if so, to what extent? There is no right or wrong as far as the details of the policy; but it’s critical that it is written in clear, concise language that can’t be left to interpretation. Just a word of caution, though; it’s probably not a good idea to let employees make configuration changes or download personal apps onto the phone, as this could encourage more personal use than you would like. Not to mention the abundance of malware associated with “free” personal apps which could impact the company’s security.

Pre-Install Important Apps

Apps that are specific to your company, or their job description, should be pre-loaded before giving it out. This ensures that the phone is ready for use and will only be used for the purpose in which it was intended. Once they’re installed, make sure they can’t be ‘uninstalled’ or altered in any way.

Use pre-set passwords

This is also something that should be clearly stated in the usage policy. Pre-set all passwords and change them on a regular basis. That way, if the phone were to get lost or stolen, the thief will not have access to sensitive material. Remember, it’s your property, and while your employees may be using them, they’re doing so for the purposes of your business and customers.

Install a tracking device

The concept of tracking is a controversial one, and one that that the law dictionary has not clearly defined. On one hand, you want to know what your employees are doing during work hours when they are not in the office; on the other hand, your employees still have a right to privacy. Each state is different and if you are going to install a GPS tracker you need to know what is legal and what isn’t. If you do install a tracker, make sure you state your exact intentions in your usage policy.

Today, the workplace is very different from even 15 years ago. More employees are on the road, work in coffee shops or set up home offices. You have a right to know that they are actually doing what they are getting paid for; but you have to do so in a responsible manner. Safeguarding your business phones is a good first step.