It might not come as much of a surprise that 87% of businesses are dependent on their employees’ ability to access mobile business apps from their smartphone. And those employees now spend as much as 17 working days a year looking at their phone for work purposes.
But despite this, only around a third of UK employers issue staff with a company mobile phone. So, what does that mean for everyone else?
The answer, often, is that businesses expect employees to use their own mobile devices.
The ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) approach is especially prevalent in the domiciliary care sector. A significant proportion of care operators have taken the view that the costs associated with leasing mobile technology and managing its allocation to a workforce with traditionally high levels of churn are prohibitive.
It’s easier, they argue, to simply ask their staff to use their own device for work in return for a contribution to expenses – typically between £5 and £10 per month.
On the surface, it’s a logical path of least resistance: staff receive a fixed amount each month to offset against work-related usage, the company’s mobile care app is installed on their phone and there is no recovery / reallocation of hardware necessary when they leave.
However, when considered in the context of the ever-increasing focus on data security and GDPR compliance, the BYOD approach raises some concerns and potential risks that need to be considered by decision makers.
The Case for Company-Supplied Phones
Below we explore the case for providing staff with mobile phones (in the domiciliary care sector specifically), as opposed to allowing BYOD.
1. Data security
Company issued phones can deployed with mobile data management (MDM) software, which allows the device to be locked down if it’s lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised, securing any sensitive data stored on it.
Devices may be location-tracked if desired but, if a missing phone cannot be recovered, remote wipe functionality means that data stored on it can be erased remotely, ensuring potentially sensitive information cannot be accessed by unauthorised parties.
Further, MDM can restrict the installation of non-essential apps, which greatly reduces the risk of malware infecting the device and the associated security issues that it brings.
2. Always up to date
MDM also allows updates to business-critical apps to be pushed out to the mobile estate without any action required from individual staff. This means there is no reliance on teams to manually update the applications they rely on, no resource required to chase individuals, and that the most secure and reliable versions of each application can be rapidly rolled out and maintained.
3. Fit for purpose devices assured
When devices are selected centrally, the business can ensure they are suitable for the job in hand. Standardising on a single, modern device across the estate also ensures compatibility with the latest apps and simplifies maintenance and support.
Suppliers of the major care apps regularly pull support for older operating systems, which can be very disruptive for providers which rely on BYOD – after all, how can you tell a care worker they need to upgrade their own phone?
With MDM, operating system updates can be pushed out in a controlled manner, ensuring consistency and compatibility across the estate.
4. Building trust
There is significant anecdotal evidence that the impact of providing a care worker with a high-quality mobile phone goes beyond the more practical benefits discussed above.
Many care providers have told us that issuing company-owned devices can increase employees’ sense of feeling valued and demonstrates the trust that such businesses places in their staff.
Of course, the provision of equipment is only one element of building a professional culture, but care leaders tell us it’s an important one, nonetheless.
Next, we consider the five most common concerns we hear from care providers in relation to providing company mobiles and how we’ve sought to mitigate these risks.
1. Unpredictable costs
One of the primary objections to company-issued phones is that they open the business up to unpredictable network costs. Our mobile phone contracts allow our clients to cap spend and data, eliminating the risk of ‘bill shock’.
All devices come with unlimited calls and texts, enabling unrestricted contact with teams in the field.
Premium rate and international numbers are barred as standard, as are MMS.
2.Unauthorised / inappropriate use
Every mobile phone can be locked down so it can only be used for work purposes – ensuring employees operate within company policies and guidelines.
3. Phones could get damaged
All devices supplied by us come with swap out exchange warranty as standard, providing you flexibility and peace of mind. Screen can be repaired by in-house maintenance team, and low-cost reconditioned handsets are available if you ever need to replace a device.
In practice though, our experience of working with over 250 care providers has shown that phones being damaged or lost and requiring replacement is actually extremely rare.
4. Care workers don’t want to carry two phones
This is understandable from the care worker’s point of view, but perhaps having one device for professional purposes (devoid of the distractions of modern-day life such as social media notifications) and another for personal use (which can beep and flash outside of work as much as the owner likes) is not necessarily a bad thing?
And of course, business mobile tariffs with unlimited calls and texts mean there are no issues with personal use of these facilities outside of work hours.
If a care worker does choose to have a personal phone as well as their company issued device, it simply means they have two devices, each to be used for different purposes at different times. Having a dedicated device for work could perhaps be seen as a professional benefit, rather than an inconvenience?
5. Resources required to set up and install required apps before
The apps that are critical to the smooth running of your business can all be pre-loaded before your devices are delivered, meaning they are ready to go, out of the box.
Further, the ability to specify multiple profile policies means the device functionality will be appropriate to each user – whether they’re a care worker, co-ordinator or manager.
In the end, of course, every business will make its own decision regarding the appropriateness of BYOD in their particular circumstances.
But hopefully this article has helped inform this process and demonstrated how the historical barriers to providing smartphones to employees can be tackled.
If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, please get in touch.