Controlling mobile costs becomes more complex when you add in a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program. Many employees prefer to carry one smartphone for both work and personal use, but then how should companies pay for these dual-purpose devices?
In order to address this question, we need to categorize employees by the type of work that they do, and how much they rely on mobile devices. The exact categories will be different between companies, depending on job functions. Decisions on who pays for the mobile bill will also depend largely on company culture.
Consider a spectrum of mobile workers, with employees who are 100% mobile on one end, e.g. a salesperson. On the other end are employees who are 0% mobile, e.g. an accounting clerk.
100% Mobile Work
For a salesperson who is on the road 100% of the time, it’s obvious that a mobile device is required to perform work efficiently, and it makes sense for the company to pay for the equipment and monthly carrier costs. Even when these employees use the devices for personal reasons, it’s unlikely to add significant cost as most corporate plans include evening and weekend voice minutes at no additional charge.
0% Mobile Work
An accounting clerk who does not require a mobile device at all for work may still want to use his personal smartphone to access corporate data. Maybe he can be productive while commuting to work on a train, or occasionally working from another location. Since it’s typically the users asking for this access, and the benefit to the company is small, it would be hard for the company to justify paying for equipment or carrier charges.
In between 0% and 100%
If the percentage of mobile work is low, let’s say 10%, an employee might feel unfairly burdened by the additional expense on her monthly phone bill. Companies may want to consider a stipend at this level.
At a certain point on the spectrum, the stipend is large enough that it could actually cost the company less to pay for the entire bill directly. Larger organizations can negotiate more aggressive pricing, and can take advantage of pooling usage.
There are a number of other benefits to paying the carrier bills directly, including avoiding the hassle of the expense reimbursement process.