Determining policies for employees
10/03/2012

Companies should define what is acceptable when it comes to using mobile devices

 

Creating a policy for mobile use by your employees when on the job includes at least a few different factors.

  • Do you provide a phone for your employees?
  • What can they do on their phone at work?
  • What are they not allowed to do on their phone at work?
  • How do you keep them and your information safe?

No matter whose phone it is, keeping employees safe while using it is essential. Rob Ross, president, Alert Management Systems, Colorado Springs, Colo., says common sense safety and security concerns should be emphasized. “For example, drivers need to be cautioned about remaining ‘hands-free’ while driving and observe all laws regarding cell phone use or texting,” Ross says.

“We don’t allow texting or talking while driving. It is a huge safety issue,” says Terry Turner, CERP, president, All Occasions Party Rental, Knoxville, Tenn. “We ask the drivers to pull over or wait until they get to their next stop to answer any text messages. We ask our employees not to use Facebook at work. However, it is sometimes difficult to police. We try to be lenient when we can. Most all of our employees have smartphones.”

Will Holditch, CERP, chief financial officer, Marquee Event Group, Austin, Texas, agrees. “Our policy is, don’t text and drive, or talk and drive. Don’t run a forklift on your cell phone. Generally, we don’t restrict usage. Social media, so far, it hasn’t been an issue. On a personal level, I have a strict policy that none of my employees are friends of mine on Facebook at all. If they are doing something that isn’t right, it will be brought to my attention. I’m their boss, not their friend,” Holditch says.

Another consideration is whether to provide an employee with a mobile phone for company use. Some companies provide phones for certain jobs — such as sales, delivery and management — as well as other devices. At All Occasions, Turner says salespeople and management all have company phones. “If we ask you to be available via cell phone, we provide it. Our salespeople all have iPads and laptop computers as well,” he says.

Holditch says Marquee Rents also provides phones. “We provide phones to our crew chiefs, truck drivers and salespeople, and pay $75 of the plan. That results in about 25 phones out of about 80 people. The hardest problem, at first, was educating employees on what constituted data for the plans. The difference with providing a phone to employees is, if I give you a phone and I call you, I expect you to answer it. If it’s a personal phone, that’s your decision to answer it,” he says.

Paul Chapdelaine, president, RMI Corp., Avon, Conn., says whether the employee provides the phone — sometimes referred to “Bring Your Own Device” or BYOD — or the company buys the phone for them, policy topics to consider include fee coverage for personal versus business usage, work hour issues particularly with BYOD where an employee is likely to be carrying his/her device during most waking hours and who owns the phone number. “This should be addressed well before an employee leaves your business,” Chapdelaine says.

“On the topic of BYOD, life might be easier in the long run if the business were to provide the device and request business use only,” Chapdelaine says. “This is almost certainly true in cases where employee devices are likely to be ‘not rugged enough’ for the environment. Field service people probably need rugged devices that can withstand working in dusty environments and can hold up to the ‘drops’ that are likely to occur.”

Also, make sure to define what kind of devices you are talking about in the policy, says J.J. Shea, general manager, Solutions by Computer, Springfield, Mass. Then you can “structure the policy around some basic guidelines. Finally, customize the policy details for the rental operation in question. Device definitions can include notebook computers, tablets, mobile/cellular devices, smartphones and PDAs. Some businesses also include any home-based computers that have access to business data. Employee expectations of privacy should be addressed in relation to all these devices. Basic guidelines define the risks and explain the risk management techniques required of the employee. Risks typically include loss, theft, malware, breach of confidentiality and licensing issues (piracy). These can often be managed by proper security measures and control of access,” Shea says.

“It’s also important to spell out the consequences of non-compliance. Choices that may seem obvious to a business owner can be less clear to employees. The policy should tell the employee where to turn to have questions answered. Once drafted, a lawyer’s review of the policy can be a good investment,” Shea says.

Andre Farci, integrated website design/hosting manager, Point-of-Rental™ Systems, Grand Prairie, Texas, says information security is another issue. “We would recommend not allowing employees’ personal mobile devices to connect to company Wi-Fi to reduce the risk of a hack and not siphon the company Internet for games. Companies should have a written policy to define what is acceptable and what is not. Checking a text from the kids is OK, but getting the high score on Tetris while a customer is waiting is not,” Farci says.

Clark Haley, CEO, BCS Prosoft, San Antonio, says it is essential for companies to address security issues. “Security policies definitely need to be considered when providing access to your business data via mobile devices,” Haley says. “It is incumbent upon the software publishers to provide security tools that limit access to certain information based upon the device and or the person logged on via that device. Management needs to consider the many security issues related to mobile access and enforce security policies that secure company data.”

John Bureau, general manager, Wynne Systems, Irvine, Calif., says protecting company data has become difficult since mobile devices can be easily lost or stolen. “It is important to have a mobile software usage policy that includes instructions that allow system administrators to lock or wipe the device’s data,” Bureau says. “Forcing password use and requiring backups and synchronizations can also help with making the information stored on the devices more secure.”


Download your own policy

 

Customers of ARA Insurance can download a complimentary, customizable “Cell Phone/Handheld Device Use Policy” from ReSource. After logging in to ReSource, click on the “Vehicles” tab, then the “Drivers” category.

Don’t have access to ReSource? Send an email to Mary Ann Gormly, CERP, risk management coordinator, ARA Insurance, Kansas City, Mo., at mgormly@arainsure.com. Access for ARA Insurance customers is free.


 

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