Should employees use their personal phones for work? The pros and cons of BYOD

Nina Quasebarth

Nina Quasebarth

A lot of companies could be forgiven for thinking of BYOD (“Bring-your-own-device”) as a great way to save money by not having to provide phones for employees. However, employees have other ideas. How do you balance a BYOD policy so that everyone wins?

Why would anyone use their personal phone for work?

It’s a fair enough question. 

On the surface of it, companies are asking employees to use one of their most cherished and expensive purchases (their mobile phone), so the company can save a few bucks. And when you put it like that, BYOD is none too compelling.  So why do 75% of employees use their personal mobile phones at work?

Our research showed that around 65% of employees give their personal numbers to customers. For those who have an office phone system, 75% simply forward their calls to their personal mobile phone.

So why are so many employees willing to give up their privacy by providing customers with their personal phone number?  

The answer is simple – instinct.

Humans in our very nature are tuned to gravitate towards pleasant experiences, things that make us feel good. The better the experience, the more we adopt it. And by and large, company provided phones and phone systems are terrible. 

Is BYOD just companies exploiting employees to save a few bucks?

The rise and rise of consumer driven experiences

As consumers, we’ve all come to expect a lot for a little.

Companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, and others, have raised our collective bar to such a high standard, that we’ve little time for anything that takes even a modicum of time to understand or use.

We’ve come to expect products to be perfect, services to be instant, and quality to be high. We want everything now, and to be able to find it, do it, and get it on our mobile phones in just a few clicks.

And then we go ask employees to use the company provided phones and phone system. The antithesis of consumer driven experiences. It’s no wonder they revolt.

By 2020, nearly 75% of workers will be mobile enabled (according to the IDC). It’s estimated that around 40% of employees will be freelancers, contractors or remote workers. As people come and go, bringing their own devices that companies can easily add into the business phone system, will be a necessity. 

Companies like Spoke Phone are tackling this problem head on. Building next-generation business phone systems that have simple and beautiful experiences specifically designed for use on mobile phones – those that companies supply, or employees bring.

75% of employees use personal mobile phones at work because it's easier

The pros and cons of using personal phones at work

87 percent (nearly 9 out of 10) businesses rely on employees to bring their personal phones to work, according to a study by The Information Systems Group (ISG). So what are the pros and cons from an employee’s perspective?

1) Mobility
The world is becoming ever more mobile, and the need to stay connected when you’re away from the desk or office is key. However, most employees don’t want to carry two phones (their’s and the company’s). With a good BYOD policy, employees can use the one phone they love, and have the mobility they need.

2) Privacy and security
Unfortunately, when employees give out personal phone numbers, there is no way to ensure their privacy or control access to the employee. Customers can call any time day or night, send unwanted TXT messages and communications that encroach on the employee’s privacy and safety. A good modern business phone solution and BYOD policy solves these issues.

3) Simplicity and good experience
Employees love their phones, and everyone loves easy-to-use things. The more companies can place simple-to-use tools inside the things that employees already love to use, the more those tools are adopted and used. A good modern business phone solution sits inside an employee’s phone and acts and feels just the same as every other app on their phone.

4) Access to personal data
When asked about BYOD, employees are most concerned about their employer having access to the personal data, photos, messages, and information on their phone.  In this regard, systems like Spoke Phone enforce these controls in favour of the employee.  Spoke Phone has physical and data controls to ensure that no matter what employers do, they are physically unable to access any personal information on the employees phone. On top of that, companies like Apple and Google (that make phone operating systems), place controls that enforce a standard of behaviour and access designed to limit access to sensitive areas of the phone.

5) It’s my phone – pay me if you want me to use it at work
Some employees simply don’t want to use their phone at work. Some want to be paid for it. Some don’t have a phone. And some still prefer the good old desk-phone. Ensure that your phone system allows for each of these users.

When it comes to paying users who use their personal phones at work, our research suggests that very few companies (about 23%) are providing some form of payment to employees. Here are the some of the ways companies are offering payment to employees:

  • Payroll contribution: A small amount added to payroll, in recognition of using your phone at work. E.g. $20 a month
  • Phone contribution: A one-time payment enabling the employee to get / upgrade to a high-end business phone
  • Company discount: Allowing employee access to purchase a high-end business phone at a company or group discounted rate
  • Do nothing: A surprising number of companies offer nothing to employees. Some companies simply require employees to install the company phone app on their own phones, and others even pitch the ability to use your own phone at work, as an employment benefit… seriously

If you're lucky and behave, we'll let you use your personal phone for work calls. #BYODFail

How to choose the right BYOD policy for your business

Whatever BYOD policy you choose for you business, you firstly need a business phone solution that supports a successful BYOD program. Let’s look at the top three determining factors.

1) High-quality mobility
Believe it or not, mobility is not a “given” in the business phone system market  today. A lot of business phone systems sold today have no mobile option at all, and all of today’s cloud business phone providers focus on desk-first experiences, that leave mobile users wanting. Low quality calls, reduced features sets, and poor experiences when on mobile phones.

Spoke Phone is the only enterprise-grade business phone system designed for a mobile-first world. Beautiful experiences, enterprise features, high-quality calls — anywhere, anytime. Spoke took the big old enterprise desk phone systems and clunky conference calling services offered today, and made them super-simple to use in a beautiful mobile and desktop app. Spoke Phone is uniquely engineered to deliver high-quality calls and experiences in harsh, remote, and mobile environments.  Low latency, super clear calls – locally, nationally, globally.
 
2) Privacy and security
Most modern phone systems like Spoke are natively engineered for security and protection of personal and company data. Look for phone systems that offer at least 256Bit EAS encrypted data both in transit and at rest, two-factor authentication, and geo-located or private data storage options. With a BYOD plan, it’s important that companies can assure employees that their information is private and safe.
 
 3) Simplicity and user experiences
It does not matter what BYOD policy you put in place, if the business phone system you provide to your employees is horrible to use, or delivers poor call quality and experiences when out of the office on mobile phones. Employee adoption is key. If you want your BYOD plan to succeed, ensure mobile 1st design and high-quality mobility are the top two things your phone provider cares about.
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