By providing cell phones, employers can choose a carrier, hardware, and an operating system that best fits the company's needs. Companies might decide they want to go with Apple's iOS, Google's Android, or some other option, but whatever they choose, they'll know that all of their employees have access to the same software and features. This can improve internal communication, and it certainly streamlines work for information technology (IT) departments.
02Con: Carrying Two Phones
It's rare anymore to see people without a cell phone within easy reach, but not many people want to carry two cell phones. Companies can (and should) establish policies for personal use of company cell phones, but most employees don't want to conduct personal business on a cell phone they know their employer can monitor. This leaves carrying a second cell phone as the only alternative, and that won't be popular with employees.
03Pro: Cost Savings
If reimbursing employees for business use of their personal cell phones, you're covering the cost of multiple individual rate plans. You'll likely pay a significantly lower rate per phone if you establish a business account for multiple lines with a single provider. Like with most bulk purchases, the more lines you need, the less you can expect to pay per line. Competition is fierce among cell phones providers, so you can be aggressive when negotiating the best rate possible.
04Con: More Work for IT
While it does benefit IT departments if everyone has the same hardware and is using the same software, company-owned cell phones still need to be serviced by IT. When employees own their own cell phones, they also are expected to maintain them, but if problems arise with company-owned cell phones, your IT department will need to solve them.
05Pro: 24/7 Access
Working remotely isn't the only reason for employees to have cell phones. Some employees, such as executives or members of the IT staff, need to be on call or otherwise accessible on short notice, and carrying a company cell phone, for this reason, can be part of their job descriptions. In urgent situations, time can be critical, and a company cell phone can provide quick access to the proper person.
06Con: Upgrade Costs
Cell phone technology changes rapidly, even compared to other technology-related products. While businesses can invest in computer hardware and software that might last several years, it's unrealistic to expect that cell phones more than a couple of years old will be able to keep up with current demands. If providing cell phones for employees, expect to upgrade their devices every two years at least. If employees are frustrated with slow or out-of-date technology, that will decrease production.
It's a good idea to take this into account when initially negotiating a deal with your provider so that you can get the best price possible on expected upgrades.
Reasons to Give (or Not Give) an Employee a Company Cellphone
Weighing the Pros and Cons
Technology, including cell phones and smartphones, gives employers more flexibility to manage remote workforces. Some employees, such as salespeople, work remotely by necessity. They need to be on the road to meet with clients and prospective clients. Other employees may not need to work remotely, but doing so can be beneficial for employees as well as their employers.
A remote workforce is not limited by geography. This gives employers a larger pool of talent from which to draw and can lead to a more diverse workforce and broader perspectives than might be found within a limited radius. Employees save time and money not having to commute to an office, and employers can save money by not having to provide office space for those working remotely.
But even for employees working remotely, employers need to cover work-related expenses, and that includes cell phones. There are two ways employers can go. They can reimburse employees for business-related communication and work through their cell phones or smartphones, or they can provide employees with company-owned cell phones.
As of 2018, 95 percent of Americans own cell phones, and 77 percent of Americans own smartphones, according to the Pew Research Center. From those numbers, it's reasonable to expect that employees will have their own phones, so reimbursement is a reasonable option. But providing cell phones has its own benefits, too, so it's important for employers to consider as many factors as possible, both pro and con, before deciding to provide employees with cell phones.