Thinking About Context in the Workplace

June 14, 2022 | Blog

Three key takeaways:

  • Policies and procedures that don’t take the work environment and overall context into consideration can lead to poor decision-making, productivity challenges and even increased risks
  • Context is just as important when thinking about mobile device use as it is when considering any other work activity or business decision
  • To be effective, mobile device usage policies must incorporate the full context of a business in order to empower employees and enable appropriate and productive device usage in the workplace or the field
Workplace policies and procedures that lack context are as useful as having no policies at all. With every business unit comes different sets of scenarios and considerations, affecting business decisions, workflows, and behaviors. What you do in one situation may not be the same as you would do in another. Policies and procedures that don’t take the work environment and overall context into consideration can lead to poor decision-making, productivity challenges and even increased risks.

Just what would that look like? Imagine a workplace where context was never considered:

  • Workers wearing fall protection harnesses all day, even when not in danger of a fall. Or, operating heavy machinery as quickly as possible, putting lives at risk and potentially costing the company money.
  • An operations team creating forecasts without looking at prior trends, leading to business decisions on investments without knowing the bigger picture. Or, adapting workflows ad hoc. Without the context of existing workflows and business problems, this could hurt productivity and cost the company money.
  • Tech teams performing system upgrades during the middle of the day, interrupting operations for some or all of the company’s employees. User credentials may be sent to anyone who asks for them, rather than supervisors or approved staff who are permitted to see this sensitive information. Developmental decisions may be made without cost consideration, integrations or interfaces. This could result in broken workflows, a disrupted supply chain or, at the least, some very unhappy customers.

To most people, these scenarios don’t seem very likely. And that’s because most work functions do take context into consideration when building out their processes and policies. But is that always the case? What happens when employees use their mobile devices at work without considering the context of what’s happening around them?

Mobile technology is fairly ubiquitous across the workplace today, yet policies governing safe and productive usage, if they even exist, often don’t allow for flexibility based on how, when and where those mobile devices will be used. Instead, companies develop policies that categorize all usage the same, with the same rules applying to all workers, all the time, and in all situations. In many respects, it’s just as absurd as requiring fall protection harnesses all day, in all situations.

Ultimately, mobile device usage policies that fail to take into account all associated factors will ultimately come up short. To be effective, policies must incorporate the full context of a business in order to empower employees and enable appropriate and productive device usage in the workplace or the field.

A well-intentioned but over-restrictive company policy may inadvertently tie the hands of employees just trying to complete their work. For example, if a company-issued phone is so locked down by software that it keeps an employee from making a call on their break, or perhaps even completing basic work tasks, that worker may grow frustrated and bring in their personal phone to use as a workaround. Or, perhaps certain apps on a device are necessary for a worker to access as a part of their job, but not when they are on the plant floor, specifically when machines are running.

A good policy takes into consideration the context of every business scenario, and regularly reassesses, to ensure workers have the tools they need to get the job done – and the flexibility they deserve on their own time. Failure to do so could impact not just the employee experience but also productivity and a company’s bottom line.

Context is just as important when thinking about mobile device use as it is when considering any other work activity or business decision. Clear, well-considered protocols that weigh all implications will best serve a company, its employees and its bottom line. TRUCE can help greatly in applying contextual exceptions or direction, and in ensuring compliance – critical components in the successful implementation of any company’s mobile device policy.

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