Giving Employees Business Cell Phones: Best Practices

In order to accomplish some business duties, it may be necessary to give employees cell phones. Before deciding, it’s important to evaluate the needs for this change in your company. This article explains the pros and cons of offering business cell phones to employees.


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Reasons for offering a business cell phone to employees

There are some important reasons for offering employees business cell phones, including:


  • If remote work will follow company policy: If an employee is on a business cell phone, they must adhere to company policy, even when they conduct business away from the office.
  • If it’ll help an employee perform their work better: Depending on the industry, employees may expect to have a business cell phone to perform their tasks. For example, a social media manager at a marketing agency must frequently access native smartphone apps for popular social media platforms, so it could be easier for them to do their job if they have a dedicated device for accessing your company’s accounts. 
  • If it’s a company benefit: Employees who have to install a mandated app on their personal cell phone for business purposes may view your company providing a separate cell phone as a benefit.


Pros of offering a cell phone to employees

Here are three pros of offering a cell phone to employees and how they can directly benefit your company:



Offering a business phone to employees can introduce consistency to the workplace. When employees are all working on the same operating system and accessing the same smartphone applications and tools, collaboration is seamless across devices. If you’re training the group on a feature, having the same cell phone distributed to each individual can help them better understand the new procedure.


Saving money

If you’re trying to decide between offering cell phones to employees or reimbursing them for part of their existing personal plan, you may save more money by taking on a corporate cell phone plan with a provider. If you’re a small business with multiple employees, you may be able to negotiate your contract with the carrier, helping you save money in the long run.


Increased employee availability

When you provide a dedicated work phone, you might be able to implement new rules for remote employees, after-hours work and on-call availability. With business phones, employees may be better able to respond to important items quickly. For example, it could benefit a 24-hour call center to have an IT professional on-call at all times in case the computer systems crash.


Once you distribute business cell phones, incorporate language in your cell phone work policies of what’s expected of employees. 

Related: 11 Tips to Effectively Manage Remote Employees


Drawbacks of offering a cell phone to employees

Here are three potential drawbacks of offering a cell phone to employees:


Managing multiple phones

Employees may not want to carry two cell phones, so they could be resistant to using a work phone. Clearly communicate the need for the business phones so you’re more likely to receive support for this change.


Additional maintenance

Because the phones are your business’ property, your IT team could become responsible for maintaining these devices on top of any existing technology they already manage. They may need training on the device before they know how to troubleshoot related networking issues.


Initial and upgrade costs

Although you may save long-term on monthly costs, your company may be subject to a large initial charge for new cell phones and upgrades when needed.


Frequently asked questions about giving employees business cell phones


What is a cell phone stipend?

A cell phone stipend is money paid to an employee for their personal cell phone use to conduct work for your business. While it’s usually distributed monthly, you can work out what’s best for your business and employees. 


Should companies provide cell phones to employees?

Whether a company should provide cell phones to employees depends on the industry, the work the employee performs and what’s in the company’s best financial interest. Companies typically provide cell phones when they expect employees to spend a significant amount of time on the phone outside of the office building or after normal business hours.


Can you require employees to use their personal cell phones for work?

Yes, employers can require that their staff use their personal cell phones for work, but they typically compensate the employee appropriately for that use. The best practice may be to disclose cell phone expectations to employees before hiring and any time you update cell phone policies.


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