In two parts, the question was, "Do you use your personal mobile device in your plant, and does your company expect you to use your own iPad or smartphone for company use?" Another question we could have asked but didn't is, "Do you use your company mobile device for personal reasons?" I bet many of us are guilty of that one.
One reader says that using his personal device makes his life easier:
It just took me five minutes to connect and solve an errant parameter problem at the mill using my personal iPad over a 3G network connection. I am championing this type of use and would hope to be reimbursed by the company for my efforts and expenses since the benefits are extremely obvious.
Another reader, Walker Reynolds, uses his personal smartphone and iPad for company business, up to and including troubleshooting, data collection, research, and trialing on the plant floor:
I'm happy to use company-provided tools if the other techs in conjunction with the management team determine the cost is worth the benefit. I have already come to that conclusion. However, I'm normally ahead of the curve when it comes to these things. As such, I will continue to use my personal tools to benefit the operation as a whole.
Says Thierry Vuillaume:
Use of an iPad or iPhone in plant operation is taking place as applications are being developed by vendors to ease the maintenance or training activities of the personnel. Use of these devices benefits both the company and operators or plant managers. But these are to be corporate tools and not private for cyber security issues. Smartphone or tablet use should be limited to the building area, not in the field.
Jeffery Frost says:
When I began at my position with my present company, it took close to a month to get my new laptop. I was told I would also be getting a company phone. I used my personal smartphone in the meantime -- necessity is the mother of invention. After a while, I got tired of asking for the company phone; I had bigger fish to fry.
From the opposite perspective comes Fernando Chua:
We issue corporate electronic devices to our employees. We insist that they use these official devices for company business only. We do not expect them to use their personal devices. And they are warned that any data accumulated in these devices belong to the company. They are not allowed to format the HD or blow away the data in the memory prior to turning them in when they leave. They use these devices for personal reason at their own risk.
One reader, Steve Leavelle, says:
In general, I don't use my smartphone for company business unless absolutely necessary. If I'm in the office, I will use an office phone to make all business-related calls. My mobile and home phone numbers are available to those in our organization that need to be able to contact me if I'm not in the office. But I don't publish those numbers in the company phone directory. My outlook is that if the company wants me to have a mobile number accessible to any company employee, they should provide me with a company-paid phone. I do not give out my mobile or home phone numbers to clients.
If one's personal smartphone is used for business, could it be subpoenaed should your company become a participant in a lawsuit? Could the entire contents of the smartphone, (and by extension, your entire personal account) become part of the lawsuit?
No, your personal device probably could not be held, but if you use it to send or receive e-mails or access and update company data, that data is held on company servers, so its irrelevant. What you should be worried about is the fact that if you hold company confidential data on your personal device, and that device is stolen (or even if you lend it for other purposes), you could be responsible for the loss or transferral of that data.
More and more, I'm hearing that people are using personal devices for business. There are a number of reasons. Some people prefer the iPhone over the company Blackberry. In another instance, I have a friend who quit using the company phone because the company was scrutinizing phone records to see if the company phone had any personal calls on it.
One thing that's not mentioned here is familiarity. Sometimes it's easier to use your personal device simply because you know it. Every new device has a learning curve and we don't always have time to do the learning.
Charles, another reason is everybody may not be willing to share their personal contact info with unknown or strange peoples. So they will give only company official contact details. Even I do share my personal contact details only with family and close related peoples, all others with company contact details (mobile number).
In response to "Do you use your company mobile device for personal reasons?" I bet many of us are guilty of that one.
I think this happens to a lot for those of us who deal with international phone calls and are never really "off." Often we get a phone call at 8:00pm since that is when the Chinese business day starts rolling. It would be way too hard to carry around two phones for phone calls so in this case the company (who of course has access to the phone records) can see personal calls being made, but its a trade off they are okay with since we are willing to accept business phone calls 24/7.
I cannot speak for all companies, but the last two I have worked for required travel. The companies provided company cell phones and laptops. They were very generous with using these devices for personal use. My thinking is that this has to be honored to some degree as you are sacrificing time away from family to travel for the company. The least they could provide is a means of communication. I do understand that this has to be tempered with common sense and you do not use the company supplied devices for extensive personal use.
Nancy, I do not feel any guilt in trying to communicate for personal reasons on company devices. Just as you pointed out, several times I communicate business on personal time!
I agree, GTOlover. I think what you said about being tempered with common sense is key. Unfortunately a lot of companies have become less tolerant because of flagrant abuse. A professional should know what constitutes abuse and what is a fair exchange. As always, one bad apple can cause a company response to an otherwise logical and efficient use of company resources...
Richard, but it seems that most of the peoples have a tendency to use official mobile for personal use because the expenses incurred will be borne by company. More over most of the peoples won't like to carry two devices at a time, due to inconvenience.
I worked for a company that demanded that I have a cell phone. They also were willing to pay for the phone and the minutes. In three years of working there I had about ten minutes of personal calls and all of the rest was Methode's company communications.
The email was a different story. They were very slow to get me an email account, so for the first few months I had to use my personal account. What was funny, I thought, was that when I needed to have customers email me photos, they usually had to come to my NetZero account because the mailbox for my company account was to small for more than about three photos. The customers always got a laugh out of that revalation. I don't know if the company has changed that since I left.
At another employer it was impossible to erase an email from your mailbox, which eventually caused problems. My workaround was to access that directory outside of the email program and open the file with my text editor. While the file could not be deleted, the contents could be erased and then the empty file saved. That reduced the size of the files enough to solve the memory problems. But it did take time. And I never used that email connection for anything except company business. One's email at that place was not private at all. It was written into the contract.
Great point TJ. I do contract engineering work and one client requires certain employees to have "smart phones". There are multiple buildings within the manufacturing complex and most of the "engineering and quality control types" cycle on a daily basis from building to building. Management likes to know where we are. It's basically our only communication system unless we are in the main building. No intercom at all. They do not provide "company" phones for individuals other than the three owners. The expense is our own "nickel". The very fact these mobile devices could be involved in the "act of discovery" never crossed my mind. Great point and one that I will definitely have to consider going forward.
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