Reader: I am a general manager of a store in a large retail chain. Recently, our VP mandated that each store conduct online consumer outreach through its own Facebook and Instagram accounts. Our store’s computer systems can’t be used for social media, and we don’t have photography equipment compatible with posting pictures online, so we must use our personal mobile phones or tablets to do this. Social media has become an important tool for connecting with our customers, but we receive no compensation for the use of our personal equipment, and the apps and photos take up tons of storage space. Is this request fair, or even legal?
Karla: Many businesses I patronize — from my hair salon to my veterinarian to the food truck outside the Metro station — have also hung a shingle on Facebook or Twitter. And since these businesses probably can’t afford a dedicated social media marketing team, odds are good that the same people who answer the phones and fry up the bacon are managing those accounts before, during and after business hours.
It’s just another example of how technology bridges (or breaches) the space between work and leisure time, and it’s one of the reasons why, in many workplaces, “bring your own device” — BYOD — has become SOP.
“BYOD policies are very prevalent now,” says Jeremy Ames, CEO of HR technology company Hive Tech and member of the Society for Human Resource Management’s technology panel.
Aside from a 2014 court ruling that California employers must reimburse workers required to make calls on personal phones, no legal guidelines specifically address employees’ use of personal phones and wireless data for work purposes. So while your employer is, in Ames’s view, “being a bit cheap,” it’s probably not violating any laws.
Your VP may not care about your storage problems or data overages. But there’s one argument that should get management’s attention.
“Every aspect of BYOD presents security issues,” Ames says.
Personal devices containing company data can fall into the wrong hands, or allow viruses or other intrusions into an employer’s wireless network. That’s why many employers opt to provide company-owned devices or subsidize employees’ wireless bills in exchange for control over Web site access, anti-virus protection and data encryption. Savvy employers also set detailed, up-to-date policies on using personal technology for work.
And if a large corporation chooses to rely on floor employees, rather than marketing professionals, to reach out and tweet someone, it would be smart to limit those employees to a select, well-trained few. Otherwise, the company may be just one disgruntled worker or nekkid selfie away from a PR catastrophe.
Thanks also to Raj Shah of MonSoteria Cyber Security Solutions and Declan Leonard of Berenzweig Leonard.
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