Should You Have a Cell Phone Policy at Work?
Most, if not all, of your employees probably bring a personal cell phone to work, but this can be a mixed blessing for your business. On the one hand, the use of cell phones can boost productivity with anytime-anywhere digital access to customers, colleagues and management, as well as work-related tools and information. On the other hand, they can present concerns about personal use, safety and security.
That’s where a cell phone policy can be useful. It establishes guidelines for when it’s acceptable and not acceptable to use a cell phone during work hours, and sets clear and consistent expectations for your business and your employees.
Consider these key factors when creating a cell phone policy for your unique work environment and culture:
Personal vs. Business Use
It’s commonly thought that cell phones distract employees and reduce productivity. While this can certainly be the case, it’s not necessarily so. Career-minded individuals who use their personal cell phones to access business information and communicate with customers and colleagues – whether at home, on the job or on the go – can be more productive, deliver a higher level of customer satisfaction and enjoy greater work-life balance.
When cell phones are used for personal use, they can be a distraction, drawing the employee’s attention away from the task at hand, which can have a negative effect on productivity and customer service. Depending on the setting, being distracted on the job can also lead to safety concerns.
To ensure cell phones help and don’t hinder your business, establish policies that define their appropriate use during business hours. For example:
- Encourage employees to use cell phones when they are essential tools for completing work-related tasks. Otherwise, phones should be stored out of sight, such as in a desk drawer, purse or coat pocket.
- Limit personal use to break or lunch times to the extent possible, with flexibility for important personal matters and emergencies.
Prohibit use during meetings and when interacting with customers.
- Require employees to set their phones to vibrate or ringtones to silent.
According to the Travelers 2019 Risk Index, 44% of drivers type or text behind the wheel. You can help keep employees safe by not contacting them while you know they are in transit and by encouraging them to set their phones to Do Not Disturb while driving. Having a distracted driving policy can help provide specific guidelines for employees who are driving during the course of their workday.
Even distracted walking and texting can make employees more prone to accidents, potentially causing injury to themselves, co-workers, and on-site customers or visitors – and you could face workers compensation and liability claims as a result.
To minimize the risk of injury and protect your business’s bottom line, consider restricting cell phone use anywhere and anytime it could be dangerous, such as:
- In production areas.
- When operating heavy equipment.
- When in transit.
The use of cell phones can benefit your business in a significant way, but can introduce a significant challenge when it comes to protecting your small business data. If your employees use cell phones for professional purposes, advise them to help secure your data by adhering to these precautionary measures:
- Update the cell phone operating system and business apps as soon as new releases are available. These releases often contain patches that address new security vulnerabilities.
- Lock the device when not in use, and require a passcode, fingerprint scan or facial identification to unlock it.
- Use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth wisely, as they may not be secure. Rely on a private cell connection whenever possible and switch off Wi-Fi when in a public place.
- Use two-factor authentication.
- Ignore spam and phishing emails.
- Back up your data in case it needs to be restored after a cyber breach.
- Install and use an anti-virus app.
Also consider purchasing cyber liability insurance to protect your company in the event of a data breach. This insurance can protect your business and your reputation by helping to cover the cost of notifying customers, credit card monitoring, legal fees, liability and more.
Protect Your Business
Cell phones at work come with benefits and risks. A well-documented and communicated cell phone policy can help ensure that your small business reaps the benefits and reduces the risks. Insurance protection can also help. Find an insurance agent today to make sure you have the protection your business needs.
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