Technology can benefit all businesses, but it can also be a hindrance if you allow it to become one. That is a big part of what a cell phone policy is designed to prevent. It’s a document that acknowledges that you’ll never be able to get rid of cell phones in the workplace while also outlining the expectations for their appropriate use (both in terms of productivity and safety) now and in the future. It’s an essential document that all employees should receive a copy of and sign for long-term accountability if nothing else.
What is a Cell Phone Policy?
At its core, a cell phone policy outlines the appropriate use of personal and company-issued cell phones in the workplace. This includes traditional phones as well advanced smartphones and other mobile devices.
When to Use a Cell Phone Policy?
In an era when virtually everyone has a cell phone that they carry around all day, a cell phone policy should consistently be implemented and used. This is especially true if employees use those cell phones for work-related purposes.
What to Include in a Cell Phone Policy?
In a larger sense, a cell phone policy should include examples of the “appropriate” use of a cell phone at work. This will all vary depending on your unique business. If you want someone to refrain from using their cell phone at work, they must be informed. Likewise, if they can use those devices but can’t access specific internal systems due to security concerns, they must also be made aware of that.
How to Implement a Company Cell Phone Policy?
Implementing a company cell phone policy is a relatively straightforward process, but it does require you to keep a few key things in mind.
1. Bring in Human Resources
First, you’ll want to ensure that your cell phone policy makes sense within the context of your business, your workers, and your ultimate goals. Your human resources team will be an invaluable asset to that end, as they will be the ones who can help you outline not only the purpose of the document, but the scope, what rules you can impose on a company-issued cell phone versus a personal cell phone, confidentiality, security, and more.
2. Verify That the Document Does What is Needed
Once a document draft has been put together, you must ensure it accomplishes what it needs to. There were particular concerns that you had ahead of time, or you wouldn’t have considered putting together a cell phone use policy in the first place. Were you concerned about lost productivity due to distracting personal phone use at work? Was security an issue? Make sure that your policy addresses any challenges you are facing.
3. Distribute to Employees and Monitor Progress
Finally, you can distribute the final version of the cell phone policy to all employees for them to sign. From that moment forward, they will be held accountable for their actions regarding using cell phones in the workplace.
How to Write a Cell Phone Policy?
While every business is a bit different from the next, there are still several important sections that you will want to include in your cell phone policy.
Step 1 – Outline the Purpose of the Policy
Begin by gathering together all key stakeholders to outline the precise purpose of the cell phone use policy. You want to detail the appropriate use of personal and company-issued phones on the job. However, it should also be clear that the following rules are designed to ensure that cell phone use doesn’t interfere with company business, compromise security, and more.
Step 2 – Go Into the Scope
Does your cell phone use policy apply to everyone who works for your company? Is it mainly aimed at temporary workers you bring in to handle seasonal fluctuations? What about independent contractors? It would be best if you answered these types of questions in the “Scope” section of your document.
Step 3 – Detail Company Use vs. Personal Use
Next, use a section or two to expand upon what rules apply to someone’s personal cell phone versus which apply to one that your business may have issued them. Depending on the sensitive nature of the work that they’re doing, you may want employees to refrain from performing work-related tasks on a personal cell phone at all. If so, that should be explicitly stated in the document.
Likewise, if you want someone to refrain from conducting personal business on a cell phone you’ve given them, you need to go into more detail about that, too. It would be best if you also outlined what consequences should any of these rules be broken in the future.
Step 4 – Expand Upon Confidentiality and Security Considerations
Perhaps most critically, you need to outline your expectations about the confidentiality and security of the information on the cell phone and the device’s safety.
Make it clear that even if they’re using a personal device, employees still need to follow all of your pre-existing policies regarding information security. This is true regardless of their location, the network they’re connected to, or the system they’re accessing. It should also be stated that employees must prioritize safety at all times, especially when using cell phones in the workplace.
Should that cell phone be lost or stolen, the incident must be reported to their supervisor and the IT department immediately. Note that not every business does this, so don’t assume that employees will know that they need to pay for a replacement should their work-issued phone be lost, stolen, or otherwise damaged in some way. If your business holds the employee financially responsible for such an event, they must be aware of it now.
Step 5 – Finalize the Document
Finally, outline what “compliance” looks like regarding this policy and any disciplinary action that may follow. It should be stated that any employee violating the cell phone policy will be disciplined, up to and including termination of employment, or even legal action in extreme situations. It would be best to clarify that the policy will be reviewed continuously. If any updates are deemed necessary, they will be made, and employees will be notified.
At that point, you can have the employee print their name, sign the form, and date it at the bottom.
Cell Phone Policy Sample
To better understand what such a document looks like in practice, below you can download a comprehensive cell phone policy sample we’ve compiled in PDF and Word format:
Why Use a Cell Phone Policy?
Ultimately, the number one reason to use a cell phone policy involves instilling a much-needed level of accountability into the employer/employee relationship. At this point, asking someone not to use a cell phone, even on the job, is unrealistic. Not only that, but employees are often more productive on devices that they already own and are comfortable with. Yet at the same time, the employee needs to know precisely what an employer expects of them and what might happen if those rules are broken – which is what this policy is all about.