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IMAGINiT Technologies

Corecon Technologies
Naylor, LLC

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Phone Replacement Policy

Q: In the last two months we have started deploying Blackberry Bolds to traffic and some field personnel. In the last week I have had two phones run over.

What is everyone doing in these cases?

1. Make the employee replace the phone as company cost;
2. Downgrade the employee to a flip phone; and
3. Replace the phone by upgrading another line "to save money" and give the employee another Blackberry.

Thank you,
Jim Gaba
Sierra Nevada Construction

A: We have debated and struggled with this very question. We say employees will replace damaged phones, but what happens is they dispute it and ultimately the job absorbs the cost. We upgrade phones with other lines eligibility upgrades regularly. We never were disciplined enough to keep honest with the line upgrades.
Todd Eldredge 

A: We have moved to iPhones and buy Apple Care with each phone: $50 each for up to two replacements in a two-year period. Many times phones are repairable and under warranty.
Lane Mitchell
G W Mitchell Construction

A: This is a fun one. We also pondered these options. We keep older phones to redeploy to the end user that breaks or loses their Blackberry. If we have an older model, that’s what they get. This does not help you now as you don’t have any older stock built up, but I have found that the users take better care of what they have out of fear of what they may get for a replacement.
Joe Hussin
Manson Construction

A: We are using Windows phones.   It is amazing that when we start deploying new model phones all of the sudden we have a noticeable increase in old phones getting broken or dropped in the ocean (we are a marine contractor).  Of course, your question is what to do about it.  Here has been my experience:

1) Scold employee about taking better care of company property;
2) If we have been upgrading, take one of the old phones and give it to the offending employee;
3) If no old phone is available, upgrade the phone (if an upgrade is not available on that line, do a do an upgrade on an eligible line and swap).

Sometimes it feels like we are rewarding bad behavior, but then again, what is a $100 - $200 compared to the cost of communication delays.

We do keep a stock of 5-10 phones on hand for quick swaps.  I generally get last generation phones on eBay to save money. 
Jeremiah Jilk
John S. Meek Company Inc.

Follow-up Question: Another topic you guys touched on: iPhones – Do you guys setup the iCloud accounts on the phones or do you allow the employees to setup their own?

My next question is leaning toward the Find My Phone feature which is essentially GPS tracking of the employee.  Is anyone using this and do you own the iCloud account?
Jim Gaba
Sierra Nevada Construction

A: Those are great questions about the iCloud.  I don't have the answers, but it raises questions about privacy concerns if tracking employees with Find My Phone, which I assume would be tied to who "owns" the iCloud account.   I will do some research on the potential privacy issues.
Paul Levin, PSP

A: We implemented GPS tracking of our Yellow Iron last year . As we see more and more companies using iPhones I was curious on how the GPS function of these phones are being utilized at the other companies.

If companies own the equipment (trucks and phones) we should be able track both equipment and employees at our discretion. Not that we are doing any of that but the potential is out there and it’s readily available to us now.

The reason why I brought this up? Last year we had a customer upset that he could never get in touch with the superintendent onsite. We called the foreman and he said that he was on the jobsite but wasn’t available. We don’t have GPS tracking on employee vehicles. The general superintendent came to me and asked if there was a way to find out where the employee was. I told him yes since we just gave him an iPhone.

Using iCloud we were able to discover the employee was sitting at home – 8 hours from the job site.

Monitoring employee location would not fall under my jurisdiction anyway. However the technology we are implementing at our companies gives us the option.
Jim Gaba
Sierra Nevada Construction

A: Not sure I agree with this: equipment, yes. But certainly not an employee when not on company time (after hours, vacation, personal appointments, etc.)  So the opportunity for abuse exists.

FWIW, an employee, or thief who steals the phone, can turn off the Track My Phone feature, unless the employee has taken steps to password protect/hide the feature.

I did ask an intellectual property attorney about this, but did not receive as much of an insightful answer as I had wanted.  Here is my question along with the response, in case it might help with your article.

Here is my question to the attorney:
If an employer issues iPhones to its employees, and has them set up iCloud accounts for various reasons, including the ability to use the "Find My iPhone" app to help locate lost or stolen phones, are there going to be privacy issues with use of the app?  Presumably, the employer should have a written policy in place that the app would be used only in situations where the employee has notified the employer that the phone has been lost or stolen.

And here is his answer:
Yes, it certainly does present privacy issues given the tracking features which make smart phones so unlike the typical company-issued product.  The key thing from the company's perspective is that, whatever privacy promises it makes to the employee (if any), the company will have to stand by them.  Many employees are surprised to learn that some companies grant them (at least through policy) no privacy rights in their company computers currently, regardless of the purpose for which that computer is being used.
Paul Levin

A: I agree that the phone is company property and subject to monitor just like email, web, and anything else. Heck, now a lot of time management software for the field has GPS functionality to make sure people punch in the job radius. We don’t actively monitor people’s web or email for fun, but the option exists if required.
Todd Eldredge 


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