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Department of Commerce

Encourage Employee Use of Personal Smartphones for Work Purposes

Our work and personal lives have been converging for decades; employees have eschewed the duplicitous nature of keeping their work and personal lives separate in favor of policies that enable them to enjoy a more holisic, flexible existence. Remote working, flex-time, and alternative work schedules have been extremely successful in meeting these demands, and have fostered a more productive and cost-efficient workforce. It’s time that Federal agencies extend these principles and philosophies to technology by allowing employees to use their personal smartphones for work purposes.

 

Like many, if not most, Federal employees, I carry in one pocket an employer-issued BlackBerry; an expensive, underutilized, and increasingly obsolete device. In my other pocket is a personally-owned smartphone capable of doing everything the BlackBerry can and more. One pocket contains over a thousand dollars of government waste per year, while the other represents a tremendous opportunity for cost savings. Though an employer-provided mobile device may seem convenient, most would prefer to carry only their personal smartphones and also use them for work…if it were allowed. Agencies drastically underestimate the demand for this; our government smartphones are a duplicative hassle. Permitting us to utilize our own devices not only mitigates this concern, but generates significant cost reductions for taxpayers.

 

The prospective savings far outweigh the costs of implementing such a policy. IT staff resources, software requirements, and upgraded security systems would cost much less than the resulting savings. Though many would participate voluntarily, the amount saved would be significant enough to offer incentives such as stipends or paid leave and still yield a substantial net savings. Such a policy could also be broadened to encompass a variety of other technological devices as well. Employees are more than willing to achieve this; now, agencies must reciprocate with equal enthusiasm.

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Idea No. 6228