The Ethics and Legality of Tracking Employee Mobile Usage

Companies issuing smartphones to their employees for work use is nothing new under the sun, and it’s actually a pretty widespread practice at this point. It’s not rare that companies run into issues related to this though, particularly regarding inappropriate use of their work phones. It can be hard to ensure that everyone is complying with company policies all the time manually, which is why you need to work with a specialized tool designed for this job.

Phone tracking applications are becoming more and more common in these situations, but unfortunately, it seems like many employers still don’t understand some of the nuances involved in their appropriate use.

Being Open and Honest

The most important point is that you should always be open and straightforward regarding any kind of tracking you’re doing. If your employees are given the impression that they’re not being tracked and find out by themselves, this can significantly undermine the foundation of trust in your organization. This problem can get even worse if you continue to be silent on the issue, so don’t let it get that bad and always be as thorough as possible in your communications on this manner.

After all, anyone using their phone for legitimate purposes shouldn’t mind this in the first place, as they should be on their own private devices for anything not work-related. As long as everyone is on the same page with regards to how devices should be used and what the appropriate limits are, you should be fine.

Understand Your Local Laws

Keep in mind that you may also face some legal limitations regarding the tracking of your employees cell phones, and some places around the world are much more restrictive than others. In Germany, for example, you are pretty much barred from doing any real-time tracking or monitoring, and breaking those laws can land you in serious trouble. Make sure you understand the full legal implications of what you’re doing, and if you’re not certain, always consult an attorney with relevant experience.

It’s usually not that hard to make sure that you’re complying with everything, as most companies in your sector will be facing the same issues as you. Just study the situation and find out what everyone else is doing, and remember to get a consultant on board if you’re in doubt. The cost of paying for their services will be only a fraction of what you’ll end up paying if you’re found in violation of the relevant regulations.

Ensure You’re Working with a Reliable Tool

The specific application you choose for this purpose will matter a lot too. Not every tool on the market is the same, and some are developed with much tighter security in mind, which makes them a better choice in a professional context. Regular domestic users may not care about such issues that much, but when you’re handling the information and communications of all of your employees, you should definitely have a more responsible approach to this and avoid compromising anyone.
Plus, this also probably concerns you, if you plan on using a company-issued device yourself. Having the information of one of your employees compromised is already problematic enough, but if they get to the leader of the company, this can bring the entire organization down in the blink of an eye.

Control Access to the Application

On that note, think carefully about how you’re going to organize access to the application within the company itself. Don’t just allow anyone to get into the control panel, and it’s best if only a handful of people are able to see these details. Access should be controlled and logged as well, so that you’ll know if someone has been accessing the information you have on any particular employee. These inquiries should always be done with a valid business reason, and you should have a chain of accountability to prevent any problems from developing.

Many companies learn this the hard way, but it’s important to pay attention to how you’re setting this up from the very beginning in order to make things simpler later on. One failure in this area of your work can completely compromise the entire organization, leading to huge issues for you and everyone that works for you. In this day and age, information is a valuable resource that should be controlled very carefully.

The most important point is that you should not approach this with a careless mind, and you should always pay attention to the small details of every application you’re considering. Phone trackers can be a very effective employee monitoring tool when they’re utilized correctly, but they’re also a recipe for disaster when used by someone incompetent or careless. This is your livelihood that’s on the line, and it makes no sense to ignore all the issues you’re potentially facing in this area.