It's time to end the absurdity of company-issued mobile phones

Once synonymous with taking care of business, today the company-issued phone has become nothing more than an extra electronic to carry around.  What’s with the complete reversal?  We take a look at the factors behind why these devices have lost their luster. 

The Blackberry, RIP, was once the gold standard of secure messaging and a go-to for enterprises with teams dispersed across multiple locations.  The capable devices made it possible for employees to conduct business via phone and email, while having internet connection on the go.  

Work Life Balance

A typical salaried employee has their regular office schedule and some additional availability outside of those hours based on the needs of the business. While company phones brought flexibility and new ways of conducting business, they also marked the end of normal office hours. These handhelds eventually became handcuffs by giving organizations the ability to contact their people virtually at will and essentially transforming parts of their office staff into 24-7 on call workforce.  Workers no longer wish to feel tethered or at the mercy of their company during all hours of the day.  

The Liability of Company Property

There exists a sense of ownership that an individual has for their personal mobile phone.  It comes from paying upwards of a thousand dollars, in some cases, to have the latest and greatest technology at one's fingertips.  We protect our devices and play a decent job of keeping tabs on their whereabouts.  This same level care is not taken with the company phone.  It's frequently left unattended at the desk, forgotten in the car's center console or glove box, or deserted any number of places at home and left to run out of battery.  To make matters worse, attempting to call your work phone to discover its location forces one to realize they don't even remember the number because it's hardly used.  The top-of-mind method of retrieving the number is to locate it within your email signature which too, requires accessing the forgettable device which functions best as a paperweight. 

Carrying Multiple Devices

No one wants the bulge in their pocket or purse from carrying an extra phone in addition to their own.  In most cases, this extra phone is outdated by a year or two which means any accessory such as a case or screen protector will not fit it natively.  While companies are known to pay for a basic protective gear for their devices, it just adds to the bulk their employees must manage. 

When looking at the phones of any dual-phone holder, it's almost a guarantee that of the two devices, one will have a cracked screen and in most cases its the company phone that does. 

Company Policy

The absence of a thorough company cell phone policy outlining acceptable use, care for the device, and hours of use all add to the confusion and reluctance employees feel toward their work cell phones.  Additionally, the potential for discipline stemming from damage or misuse of the phone is enough to make employees refrain from using it at all.  

Most corporate devices are loaded with third-party applications capable of monitoring activity and a user's location, and thus raising concerns over privacy.  Employees don't want to feel as if they're being watched more than they already are, so minimizing their use of the company cell phone becomes normal practice.   

A Single Solution

Many companies pay their employees a stipend to cover the cost of their mobile plans and thus the usage required for their job functions.  Applications like Microsoft Teams and Zoom provide the ability to reach employees through voice call.  If there exists a need for dedicated phone numbers, many smartphones have the capability of accepting dual sim cards.  

Providing employees with the flexibility of carrying around their own personal device may even boost the likelihood of reaching them when attempting to contact them outside of their normal hours.  

Ultimately, it's up to the company to make the determination on issuing mobile devices to its employees. Rather than taking the outdated approach by applying a one-size-fits-all solution, organizations should consider each employee's preference and unique situation before issuing them a company phone.