AB Thinks  →  9th November 2018

Left to their own devices

As Walmart lifts its ban on employees using their personal devices on the shop floor, should we all consider piggybacking on our employees’ love affair with their mobile phones?

From October, Walmart employees will be able use their own mobile devices for a variety of work-related tasks from clocking-in, checking inventory and prices, to scanning products and reviewing sales data.

Initially, this appears to be just another BYOD – Bring Your Own Device – initiative. In the UK alone 45% of businesses are operating a BYOD policy. This rises to 60% of finance and insurance firms.

BYOD usually applies to employees already using a laptop or smart device for work.  The policy is designed to give employees a choice – use our hardware or yours. However, the Walmart initiative is different. The company’s press release says before the BYOD policy, shop floor employees had to use a “handheld device at the back of the store” to access the company’s digital network. They now have a smart device in their pocket to use throughout the working day. Unsurprisingly, the company expects to see greater productivity and efficiency, plus better customer service.

Walmart’s initiative suggests organisations struggling to provide employees with smart technology could sidestep the problem completely. It is estimated 85% of the UK population now owns a smart phone and we are checking these devices 47 times a day (85 times a day if we are aged between 18 and 21).

Why not piggyback on this love affair?

AB has conducted its own research into whether employees would use their personal devices for work. We found 68% of UK employees would consider using their own device for work-related activities. The remaining 32% could be persuaded if their concerns about privacy and the impact on their work/life balance were addressed

Walmart appears to have mitigated these concerns by offering its employees a discount on their monthly phone bills and publishing a list of information it can and cannot see on its employees’ devices.

Later this month I will be speaking at the CIPR National Conference on the convergence of internal and external communications. As more employees pick up the same device for work and social activities, it’s likely the line between internal and external will continue to blur.

We’d love your views on the convergence of internal and external relations by filling in this short survey.