Guest Column | May 27, 2021

Setting Expectations And Parameters For Mobile Device Use At Your Organization

By Jeffrey Smith, Senior Director, InterPro Solutions

Disruption Mobile

Businesses increasingly rely on mobile devices to manage inventory, generate and respond to work requests, track assets and communicate with managers and customers. One of the best ways to make employees comfortable about the use of their business mobile devices is to create a clear Mobile Device Use (MDU) policy for all employees.

This can also be great starting point to dispel rumors, fears, or myths about how the organization intends to use these devices with regard to the growing questions of personal privacy. If you’ve struggled with how to meet these challenges, you are not alone. The following provides a useful approach to developing an effective Mobile Device Use policy.

When creating your policy document, keep these guideposts in mind:

Clarity – make it easy for your readers to understand and follow. Avoid using jargon and unnecessarily technical terms. If it’s not clear, it won’t be understood.  If it’s not understood, it won’t be followed. A useful process for drafting policies is to create “Dos” and “Don’ts” columns.

Durability – use a tone and format designed to last; reference other documents or policies that may contain controlling policy language. This will avoid having to update the MDU policy each time there are changes to relevant departmental or organization-wide technology policies. Stay silent on specifics that are not essential to the goal of compliance (like times of day when phone must be checked). Avoid language that might tie your hands when it comes to interpreting “edge cases” where there might be potential misuse or abuse.  

Remember to always check with your HR and General Counsel before finalizing and distributing your MDU policy.

Using FAQs can be a great way to address underlying workforce concerns

A common workforce concern is that the mobile devices will be used to track or surveil employees. An effective way to directly address this concern is by incorporating a FAQs section directly in the policy or identifying it as a separate document incorporated by reference. In addition to addressing the mechanics of things like what to do when a phone is lost, you can respond to the concerns of unwanted surveillance as well as “searching of my phone,” head on.

Nearly all organizations are more interested in tracking the work (progress and results) rather than the actual people. If that is your case, then state it directly. Show folks how they can turn off the Locations Services setting. But warn them of the downside if the device is misplaced or lost. It is also important to note that the Locations Services setting will have to be enabled whenever using the Drop Pin feature for activities that rely on the location functions within the phone. 

The bottom line is the more control you give individuals over the device, the greater use compliance you will get in return.

Below are examples of a Mobile Device Use Policy as well an FAQ to use as a template for your organization:

Mobile Device Use Policy (example only)

Your Responsibilities and Allowed Uses


  • Issued devices are owned by (organization) and entrusted to your care. You are responsible for the whereabouts and uses of all devices assigned to you at all times.
  • Lost, stolen, damaged or malfunctioning devices must be immediately reported to your (organization role, i.e., supervisor).   
  • Check your issued device regularly for information from your supervisor or others regarding work-related communications.
  • Keep your issued device properly charged, inside the protective case, and away from potentially damaging environments (e.g., water or extreme temperature.)
  • Describe the phone and data plans as applicable. (e.g., Domestic phone time usage is unlimited. Data plans are sized so as to exceed the storage required for your work-related needs and as such may be accessed for personal use.)
  • Describe how the phone and “work” data interact. (e.g., All work and time card data will be backed up to the Cloud. Users are encouraged to back up personal data (e.g., photos, address books, etc.) to personal accounts or devices. You are solely responsible for establishing and maintaining any such personal account(s) with iTunes or others, including all costs and associated use limitations.)  
  • Issued devices may not be used for illicit or illegal activity of any kind. All uses must comply with prevailing (organization) technology use standards.
  • Lost, stolen, or unrepairable devices will be scrubbed of all data and user information. No exceptions.
  • User account access and passwords may not be shared with others, including co-workers. If you believe your password is known to others, discontinue use and immediately report the condition to your (organizational role, i.e., supervisor)


Frequently Asked Questions (examples only)

Area of Concern


Unwanted Surveillance

The new system will be used to Track Work Orders, not Employees. Location Services setting can be turned off by the user.

“The phone will be used as a GPS Tracker”

Required to Carry 24/7

Employees will only be required to carry the mobile device(s) while at work. Employees must report to work with device(s) fully charged.

  • Employees may also use the phone at any time; the domestic calling plan is unlimited.
  • The (organization) will be buying the phones and paying for the monthly call and data plans.

“I’ll be forced to carry it with me and be logged on all the time”

Two Phones

Since the (organization) will be paying the monthly service plan on all issued phones, employees may select to treat it as their personal cellphone.

“I already carry a personal cell phone at work. Now I’ll be lugging around two of them.”

“Can I keep my personal cell phone number?”

Yes. Employees may transfer an existing personal number to the organization-issued phone. 

“Can I take the number back when I leave?”

Yes. Employees who leave will also have the option of transferring the phone number back to a personal phone. All mobile devices will need to be returned like any other organization-owned property. 

Lost or Damaged Phone

Phones will be considered like all other department-issued equipment and employees are expected to treat them appropriately. However, if it gets broken or lost, the department will repair or replace the phone.

“What if I lose the phone or if it breaks?”

Time Cards

Employees maintain full control over the creation of their daily Time Card, including all hours worked.

  • Completing the electronic time card will take less time and training than the current paper version. 

“The system will be tracking my actual time worked on every work order.”

Lack of Privacy

No work order or time card information resides on the phone. (work orders and time cards are only be accessed from the phone, not stored on it.)

“Supervisors will want to search my phone looking for work orders / time cards.”

Since mobile devices are becoming increasingly common employee tools in many in industries, it is important to make sure all employees are informed of, and comfortable with, organization policies. Laying out a clear MDU policy and preparing an FAQ are helpful ways to eliminate confusion and nip potential problems in the bud.