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Mobile phones

Mobile phonesThese days a mobile phone is an essential piece of business equipment. The recent advances in mobile techology mean that modern smart phones are as powerful and flexible as a personal computer. Now there's little excuse for being out of reach and unable to work.

With a vast range of equipment and services available, it can take a little time to find and implement the best mobile phone and service for your company.

Business mobile phone options

There are many ways your business can use mobile phones. Your staff can stay in touch when they’re visiting clients, send and receive email, browse the internet or even divert all calls to their mobile phone if they’re working from home. And with the growth in apps there is an endless range of tasks your staff can complete with a business mobile such as online marketing, filing receipts, working time and expenses, checking train times, getting directions and remotely accessing key documents stored in the cloud. Of course, a business mobile phone is also essential for employees who are on call too.

When purchasing business mobile phones for your company, it’s important you’re absolutely clear about what you want to do with them. In particular, you will need to establish:

  • How many mobile phones you need. Will every employee get one?
  • How the phones will be used. Will employees use them when travelling, to access email or to browse the internet or access your company intranet remotely?
  • When the phones will be used. Will you be calling at peak times?
  • Whether your mobile phones need to work with your existing systems. For instance, do you want to use them with your email system?

Make sure your IT supplier or the person responsible for IT in your business is involved in this process. They can advise on the best way to integrate any new mobile phones with your existing IT systems as well as help determine the best way to support your mobile phones.

Business phone deals

You need to make two key decisions when choosing a business mobile phone system:

  • Which mobile phone handsets you want. It’s usually best to standardise on a single model across your business. Even basic handsets can be used for quite advanced tasks, like sending email, browsing the internet, instant messaging and drafting documents. However, the bigger screens and extra features offered by more advanced models make them better for business use.
  • What mobile phone service you want to use them on. There are a number of different mobile phone networks, all offering different tariffs. Evaluate these mobile phone tariffs carefully – deals that look attractive may have steep hidden charges.

The most cost-effective business mobile phone packages usually involve signing a contract with a mobile phone network. In exchange for committing for a period of time (usually one to two years), you can get handsets cheaply or for free.

These contracts start at around £25 a month, including a call and data allowance. You may have to pay up to £200 for each handset on a contract if you want one of the latest smartphones. However, you can get very capable handsets for £50 or less.

Mobile phones are lost, damaged or stolen more frequently than most other IT equipment, so you’ll probably want to budget for mobile phone insurance too.

Get cover for the equipment itself as well as for any consequential losses, like the cost of unauthorised calls. You can buy insurance from mobile phone networks for £5 - £10 per handset per month, but it’s usually cheaper to add the cover to your existing business policy.

You should also include mobile phones in your security review. Mobile phones and devices contain increasingly important information and data and failure to adequately protect that information can have serious implications for your business.

Managing business mobile users

Have a clear mobile phone policy describing how you expect employees to use business mobile phones. Cover areas like whether they are allowed to make personal calls, how they can use the phone hands free when they’re driving, and when they‘re required to have phones switched on.

Finally, monitor how you use your business mobile phones and regularly review whether you are on the most appropriate tariff. Most mobile phone networks allow you to download your bills as a spreadsheet for easier analysis.

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You might also want to read our guidance on business phones.