“What’s your cell phone number? Good, I’ll call you about the meeting.” If you’re like many people in the world who have used a smartphone for years or one of the 1.3 billion people who bought one recently, chances are you’ve used it for work. In fact, your employer may have even invited—or asked—you to use your smartphone, tablet, or laptop in your job. Such is the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend, which started out of friendly convenience but now carries major ethical issues. For instance:
• Did you know your employer can wipe your personal devices clean? Remotely? With no warning? It happens, and not just at the 21 percent of organizations that erase devices when employees are terminated. Any time an organization has a privacy concern, it may wipe all devices clean to prevent a further breach of its cyber defenses. Healthcare consultant Michael Irvin lost his personal e-mail accounts, apps, music, contacts, and photos suddenly one day, leaving his multi-use iPhone “as it came straight from the factory.” Another individual lost pictures of a relative who had died.
• Is your device part of your employment contract, either explicitly or by understanding? If so, who pays for the device? Well, you did, and you continue to pay for the service. If the device breaks, then . . . who pays for the replacement device? Can you lose your job if you can’t afford the device and service?
• Can you use your device for all work-related communications? The cloud has brought opportunities for people to send classified work information anywhere, anytime. Organizations are concerned about what social media, collaboration, and file-sharing applications are in use, which is fair, but some policies can limit how you use your own device.
• Once you use your personal device for work, where are the boundaries between work and home life? Research indicates that intensive smartphone users, for instance, need to disengage in their off-hours to prevent work– home stress and burnout. Yet not everyone can do this even if they are allowed to; research indicated a significant proportion of smartphone users felt pressured to access their devices around the clock, whether or not that pressure was warranted. The clear dilemma for employees is whether to acknowledge they own a smart device, and whether to offer its use for your employer’s convenience. Put that way, it seems obvious to say no (why would you risk possibly later losing everything to a corporate swipe?), but the convenience of carrying one phone is for you as well. However, some people think it’s just better to carry two phones—one for work, another for personal use. Attorney Luke Cocalis tried it and concluded, “It frankly keeps me saner.”
11-11. Do you use your smartphone or other personal devices for work? If so, do you think this adds
to your stress level or helps you by providing convenience?
11-12. Cocalis likes the two-phone lifestyle and says his boss has his personal phone number only for
emergencies. But assistant talent manager Chloe Ifshin reports it doesn’t work so well in practice.
“I have friends who are clients and clients who are friends,” she says, so work contacts end up on her
personal phone and friends call her work phone. How does this consideration affect your thinking
11-13. Organizations are taking steps to protect themselves from what employees might be doing
on their BYOD devices by allowing only approved computer programs and stricter policies,
but no federal regulations protect employees from these. What ethical initiatives might organizations
adopt to make this situation fair for everyone?
Sources: S. E. Ante, “Perilous Mix: Cloud, Devices from Home,” The Wall Street Journal, February 20,
2014, B4; D. Derks and A. B. Bakker, “Smartphone Use, Work-Home Interference, and Burnout:
A Diary Study on the Role of Recovery,” Applied Psychology: An International Review 63, no. 3 (2014): 411–40; L. Duxbury, C. Higgins, R. Smart, and M. Stevenson, “Mobile Technology and Boundary Permeability,” British Journal of Management 25 (2014): 570–88; E. Holmes, “When One Phone Isn’t Enough,” The Wall Street Journal, April 2, 2014, D1, D2; C. Mims, “2014: The Year of Living Vulnerably,” The Wall Street Journal, December 22, 2014, B1, B2; L. Weber, “Leaving a Job? Better Watch Your Cellphone,” The Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2014; and E. Yost, “Can an Employer Remotely Wipe an Employee’s Cellphone?” HR Magazine, July 2014, 19.