- Issuing employees corporate smartphones gives managers far greater control over data security and best practices.
- Reviewing phone billing documentation can guide your decisions on how much talk time and data you need.
- Employees might not use handsets as you would expect – or at all – if they have an unrestricted personal device and a heavily restricted work phone.
- This article is for managers and business owners who want to implement a cost-effective smartphone data plan for their employees.
Communication is key for any company to succeed, and smartphones are the cornerstone of modern communication. From traditional calls and visual voicemail to email and productivity apps, having a solid smartphone plan can be the best way to link your workers – and customers – to your business. This is especially true in the wake of the pandemic, with many people still working from home or using video conferencing technology.
Finding the right smartphone business plan can be challenging when considering factors like data limits and coverage. We’ll explain how to break down your needs and match them to compatible plans that suit your budget.
How to choose a business smartphone plan
Choosing a business smartphone plan means identifying some key considerations:
- Establish your needs. Examine your business and what it needs in terms of smartphone service. Understanding where and how your employees will use their phones is crucial. Take a close look at your employees’ usage patterns. Prior phone bills will let you know how long your employees talk on the phone each month.
- Identify your coverage area. Coverage varies widely depending on your location. Your carrier choice might be limited due to where your business is based or if employees travel across the country.
We’ll examine each of these areas in more detail.
Did you know?: Smartphone usage provides an overview of employee activity and behavior, but the best employee monitoring software can deliver more granular insights.
How much data do you need?
Cell phone carriers charge users for data – the amount of time they spend browsing the web or using specific apps to communicate. However, determining how much data you need can be challenging.
If your employees send and receive emails all day long or if they download and upload sizable files, you’ll likely need to look into a hefty data plan. Some carriers offer unlimited data in addition to unlimited talk and text.
Logan Abbott, president of cell phone plan site Wirefly.com, said that business owners should understand how their employees use their phones so they can choose the right plan.
“If your team is only using their cell phones for phone calls or text messaging, this will inform what plan you should choose, as opposed to if your team is using data heavily,” Abbott said. “Some business plans let every device on the plan share from a pool of data, while other plans offer unlimited talk, text and data for every line on the account.”
Which geographic areas do you need coverage in?
National cell phone service providers like Verizon and AT&T have the most comprehensive coverage. If regular business travel is still part of staff workloads, using one of the larger providers will alleviate the business travel stress of poor reception and limited coverage.
“If your employees are traveling across the country, give preference to a carrier that has good coverage in all the areas your team will need it,” Abbott said. “These days, carriers across the board boast much better coverage nationwide than [they did] just a few years ago.”
If your workers travel through a specific region or stay within the limits of your home city, look for the provider with the strongest local presence. View a breakdown of carrier presence by city through various online ranking websites. RootMetrics, for example, analyzes and ranks cell providers in major cities based on various factors.
“If your employees are just using their cell phones around the city your business is located in, give preference to the carrier that has the best coverage in your city,” Abbott said.
If your employees deal with international travel, most carriers provide some overseas connectivity options. It’s best to speak directly with a provider to find the right international plan based on your specific needs.
How to implement your new business smartphone data plan
Most carriers provide a breakdown of their services and prices in charts that will help you directly compare their plans. After carefully determining your business’s needs, you’ll need to consider various factors:
- Voice plan options
- Data plan options
- Texting options
- High-speed data options
- Third-party apps
- International calling packages
- Wireless hotspot capabilities
- Plan contact length
You’ll also have to decide if you want to issue your employees iPhones or Android phones.
After finding a carrier that offers the features and coverage you need at a price within your budget, implementing your new business smartphone data plan should be the most straightforward aspect of this process. Hand your employees their new devices and monitor their usage so you can adjust your plan accordingly.
Tip: Smartphones and laptops are often provided to employees together. Learn how to secure business laptops to protect your company’s critical data.
What are the security implications of company-issued smartphones?
When your employees use company-issued smartphones, you gain an extra level of security that isn’t possible with personal devices:
- They enhance privacy. A company-issued smartphone is inherently more private than a BYOD (bring your own device) setup. For example, it would be challenging to ensure that sensitive company emails remain private on an employee’s personal smartphone. It’s also impractical to force employees to password-protect their personal devices.
- You can control apps and usage. Issuing company-owned smartphones lets you control nearly every aspect of how your employees use the devices, including which apps they can install and which options they can select. On their personal phones, employees could unwittingly install applications that could compromise company data.
- They help with records management. Issuing company smartphones helps maintain good records management and follow data backup policies.
- You can still control the device if an employee quits. If an employee leaves, you can perform a remote wipe of a company-owned device.
Some smartphone models can use specialized software where employees log in to a secure profile to access work apps on their personal phones. For example, Samsung phones are compatible with Knox, a proprietary business security platform that keeps work data encrypted and separated from personal activity.
Do you need company-issued smartphones?
Don’t assume company smartphones will automatically benefit your business. Because smartphones are ubiquitous, some companies can benefit from allowing employees to use their personal smartphones for work. For example, if company-issued smartphones have too many restrictions, employees might not use them.
Regularly evaluate how your employees use their phones, and determine if company-issued devices are helping boost productivity and improve communication. Anonymous surveys and exit interviews are good ways to test the water and see whether employees are using the devices as you originally intended – or even if they’re using them at all.
Matt D’Angelo contributed to the writing and reporting in this article. Source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.