Personal Problems: When Workers Use Business Devices in Their Downtime

If there is one recurring issue that many employers struggle with, it when their employees use business equipment supplied by the company, for personal purposes.

There are a number of problems that can occur as a result of this action, not least the loss of productivity that can have an effect on the bottom line performance of the business.

The solution is to try and create a workable fair usage policy that protects the employer and allows the employee to use the equipment provided as efficiently as possible, together with using tools like asset tracking software to keep control of what items are in use and which employees have access to them.

The problem with personal usage

Loss of productivity is definitely a problem associated with personal usage of business equipment.

Employees who use their work time to carry out personal tasks using business equipment need to be identified and made aware of company policy regarding these actions. It is not just the fact that employers are losing manpower time that they are paying for, but there are also staff morale factors to consider as well.

If some employees are allowed to use the equipment almost with impunity and others are not, this creates disharmony in the workplace and affects staff morale in general.

Other problems associated with personal usage include damage and breakages, where there may be a dispute as to who is responsible for the repair if the equipment was being used for personal and not business purposes.

Finding the tipping point

Regardless of how stringent your company policy is in relation to personal use of equipment, there is almost inevitably still going to be some going on.

The best advice is often to find an acceptable tipping point. Allow a certain amount of slack but still aim to be consistent and vigilant with your efforts to enforce the rules, so that personal use does not become excessive in most cases.

Creating a policy

A lot will depend on the nature of your business when it comes to creating a fair usage policy for employees and the type of equipment that they have at their disposal.

In broad terms, if the employee has a company cell phone and is out and about most of the day, there is bound to be an element of overlapping between personal and business use, so you just need to set some fair limits in this respect.

If however we are talking about access to a company vehicle, that often requires a different set of rules. This is because an employee using a business vehicle has to think about damage and injury implications if they cause or are involved in an accident whilst using the company vehicle in a personal capacity.

Managing lend outs

Having an efficient lend out system and inventory will ensure good equipment management and also encourage a good level of responsibility amongst employees.

Consider using specialist asset tracking software to make the task of keeping a record of all business equipment and who has use of it. It also makes sense to get employees to sign agreements so that they can be held accountable if there are any examples of negligence or misuse of company property.

Personal usage of business devices can be a problem for many businesses, which is why you have to try and manage it as efficiently as possible.

Patrick Young works as a warehouse manager. He loves sharing his insights online. Look for his articles on various business and management websites.

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