Making internal communications available on employees’ mobile devices is an increasingly promising option. More than two-thirds of Americans now have smartphones. And mobile allows us to reach employees wherever they are – even in the field or on the frontline.
It seems like an obvious solution, but there are two major challenges a company must address before launching employee communications via mobile. The first is that most companies are paying for fewer employee phones than ever, so communications would have to go to employees’ own devices. Some employees are fine with that; others are not so eager to share their personal phone numbers with the company.
The second challenge is the legal question of whether mobile communication requires employees to address company business when they’re off the clock. For high-level executives, this may not be an issue, but those are the folks who are easier to reach by computer anyway. For hourly workers, those least likely to have a computer at work, mobile could be overstepping the company’s bounds.
There are ways around both of these challenges, but each company must address them in ways appropriate to their industry and culture. An opt-in opt-out mobile program respects the privacy of those employees not willing to hand over their personal mobile numbers. For other companies, a custom app might be a more easily accepted solution since it sidesteps the issue of phone numbers completely.
There’s also more than one response to the legal question mentioned above. At some companies, it’s a non-issue. At others, the question alone is a deal breaker for any internal communications through mobile. There are also companies that have developed a reasonable approach in between the two extremes.
In the next issue of the Tribe Report, focused on non-desk communication, you’ll find a few best practices that could be useful for your own mobile strategies. If you’re not already receiving our magazine for internal communications professionals, please email Matt@tribeinc.com to request a print or electronic subscription.