Mobile Devices in the Office
As an employer, how do you manage mobile devices in the office? Chances are you’ve experienced the following: you’re in a meeting with a small group of employees. Everyone is discussing an upcoming project when one employee decides to take out his or her phone–not to answer an urgent call but to check the time, email, or social media.
What do you do? Do you sit idly by and let the disruption happen? Or do you call out the employee?
Instilling proper mobile device etiquette can be tricky. It’s 2018, and everyone and their mother has a smartphone. It’s endless, pocket-sized fun after all!
There’s no denying it. Mobile devices can be incredible distractions and substantial time wasters. According to a 2017 survey from OfficeTeam, a staffing firm, the average office employee spends 56 minutes per day using their mobile phone at work for non-work activities.
No wonder the West Wing banned personal phone use.
However, in some office settings, smartphones are incredibly handy tools that allow employees to remain in contact with the office, customers, and suppliers. Can you imagine modern-day salespeople being able to close deals WITHOUT smartphones?
Whether you let your employees bring their own devices (BYOD) or provide them with work phones, it can be beneficial to set up a few guidelines for mobile devices in the office:
Mobile Device Etiquette
Turn off the notifications
Phones buzzing and chirping every minute can be disruptive to employees, especially if your office has an open floor plan. Have you ever heard a phone go off – vibrate on a table or let out a default Apple trill – and thought the sound was coming from your phone? The ensuing check could be construed as a distraction itself, not to mention the increased likelihood of that simple check turning into a lengthy perusal of one feed or another. Just telling your employees to silence their phones might not be enough. Require your employees to turn off notifications on their devices.
Use personal phones for urgent calls only
Naturally, phone calls from the school nurse (or anything that needs attention ASAP) should be dealt with as soon as possible. But for non-work-related calls, have your employees save the chitchat for after hours or break time.
Limit the use of mobile devices in meetings
Employees checking social media, news feeds, or playing games should not be tolerated – especially in meetings. The only acceptable use should be answering urgent phone calls, adding things to a calendar, or taking notes. Doing anything else is a clear signal of a lack of attention. Make sure this type of device use is expressly prohibited in company policy. Also, be sure to provide examples of acceptable use for the sake of clarity.
Mobile Devices & Security
Another layer to consider in managing mobile devices in the office is security. Allowing your employees to connect their mobile devices to the company network poses a security risk. These essential best practices will help to ensure your networks are secure:
Restrict access to sensitive data
Make sure mobile devices are not connected to the same internal network as critical systems or data. If employees need mobile access to those internal resources, talk to your IT team about using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for remote mobile connections.
Require two-factor authentication
Require that employees enable two-factor authentication on the devices they wish to connect to the company Wifi.
Don’t forget – firewalls work on mobiles too
Make use of a firewall on your mobile device network by limiting what employees are allowed to do on their devices. For example, if you want to cut down time spent on social media, you could block Facebook via a firewall.
Keep track of who gets access to company Wifi
Only the IT guys and you should know the Wifi password. No sharing passwords with anyone unless the network is expressly meant to be a “Guest” network. Once the IT department grants an employee access, have them keep a catalog of known mobile devices. This will help with troubleshooting security threats down the road.
Consider an MDM solution
If these security measures prove too cumbersome to maintain, consider talking to your IT team about an MDM solution, i.e., Mobile Device Management software. This software grants your IT the power to set and enforce mobile device policies enterprise-wide – whether it’s blocking apps or preventing unrecognized devices from gaining access. MDM software is a powerful tool and can be used to manage laptops and tablets as well.
Enforcing a Mobile Device Policy
Implementing mobile etiquette and security policies throughout your daily business and company culture is essential.
Consider including your mobile device policy in your employee handbook.
And lastly, for all employees, send out quarterly mobile usage “reminder” e-blasts. These reminders will help your employees take the mobile device policy seriously and keep everyone on the same page.