Should employees have workplace tech on their personal devices?

Should employees have workplace tech on their personal devices?

74% of staff at larger companies don’t want to be made to install workplace apps on their personal devices, according to a report from analyst firm CCS Insight.

The research, which interviewed 672 global employees, found that seven per cent of workers are asked to download workplace technology onto their private phones. The subject matter raises questions around personal boundaries – and what managers should be legally allowed to ask of their employees.

In a world where data loss is increasingly common, and the threat of identity theft keeps employees awake at night, should we really be integrating private and personal technologies? Or should we draw a line between work life and our personal activities?

We asked the HR Tech News audience their thoughts on the controversial topic.

“Like any consumer, it’s for staff to decide the value proposition,” commented Shridhar Kumar, head of product - HR Transformation at Tesco.

“A lot of us detest the idea of carrying two phones. And some of the features offered on mobile devices are highly beneficial – for example booking or altering shifts, notifying sickness and contacting community helpdesks. A matured organization will trust its employees and leave the decision in their hands rather than mandating the medium.”

Erring on the side of caution, George Kemish, director and principal consultant - HR Strategy & Workforce Planning at Specialist Human Resources Limited, added: “Whilst I do not disagree with the idea of employees having workplace tech on their personal devices, care needs to be taken to ensure the security of information. This is particularly important where personal information is held and, across Europe, would be expected under the regulations that protect personal data (GDPR).”

For Abi Brown, managing director at Openingz, the most important aspect for consideration is employee respect. She told HR Tech News that a worker should have a phone provided to them for business reasons and the tech should only go on that device.

“However,” she added, “some people of course are happy to just have one phone, but it's crucial steps are taken to avoid any breach in security or data. Essentially, advice should be given to the worker.”

Mark Hopkins, recruitment director, believes that if employees are going to integrate work into their personal tech, then work will need to integrate into your personal life too.

“That means, no one is off sick, no one has to ‘clock in’ and everyone is responsible for the business to be delivered,” he added. “There’ll be a massive shift to ‘we’ and away from ‘I’ - some companies in the materials handling world are getting this right, working from home 100%, company cars, and they only have to set up a home office. However, if it’s like a CRM app, and outlook - then we are on the border I think.”

As for Ben Whitter, founder of the World Employee Experience Institute, he advocates taking a step back and looking at HR technology from a trust-based perspective.

“I'd be more focused on what came before this question,” he relayed to HR Tech News. “We live in an age when employees are voluntarily being microchipped. Trust, safety and data security big themes with this and how such tech is used and deployed.

“Quality of EX and co-created relationship between employers and employees will need to be looked at before asking employees about tech and personal life.”

Do you think employers should be allowed to ask staff to download workplace software onto their personal devices? Share your thoughts in the comments.