While the age-old debate between whether to dub an iPhone or an Android as the supreme ruler of the cell phone universe may never be settled, most people can agree that a mobile phone is vital to conducting business. From large corporations to cozy mom-and-pop shops, mobile connectivity allows workers to respond to time-sensitive emails, share data, and communicate with consumers from virtually any location.
In recent years, cellular networks like Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and T-Mobile have been building hype around their unlimited data plans, using vibrant marketing, viral videos, and a string of witty commercials to highlight the appeal of these offerings. While the idea of switching to an unlimited data plan may seem like a no-brainer – after all, it would remove the need to constantly keep tabs on individual data consumption – is it really the best choice for your business?
To avoid any wasteful spending, businesses should first assess whether or not their needs call for activating an unlimited data plan for their employees. Here’s a look at what you should take into consideration before pulling the trigger.
How Your Employees Use Their Smartphones
Is an unlimited data plan suitable for your business? The answer depends on your company’s communication habits and how actively your team uses their cell phones for business-related matters. If your employees seldom travel outside of the office, primarily use their desktop computers in a WiFi-enabled workspace, and aren’t actively using email or text messaging to communicate with customers or coworkers, then a basic coverage plan would suffice.
Business unlimited plans cost an average of $20 more per month than traditional plans. With this in mind, if your employees are only exceeding monthly limits every once in a while, paying overage charges on the few occasions they arise may be more cost-effective in the long run than switching to an unlimited data plan. However, if your business’s daily data consumption is substantial, telecommunications consultants advice investing the extra money in an unlimited plan may be the more economical choice.
For example, if your sales personnel spend a bulk of their time on the road, they will need seamless access to data, including customer information, presentations, and travel itineraries. Businesses should take the time to familiarize themselves with how their employees operate on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, measuring on average how many minutes, messages, and data is consumed in total. This is especially true for companies with staff members that frequently venture abroad. Regular data plans may not provide sufficient coverage for employees traveling overseas, costing the business an arm and leg in additional fees.
Some businesses, such as real estate agencies, may find that unlimited data plans can expertly accommodate their business structure. Real Estate brokers regularly find themselves out of the office meeting with clients, which will require internet access to review MLS listings and pull relevant reports on the neighborhood or school district of the home they are showing. In this circumstance, employees with standard data plans would frequently find themselves exceeding their monthly limits and would benefit from the unrestricted nature of an unlimited plan.
Where to Start When Evaluating Company Needs
It’s important to assess all departments and aspects of your business to ultimately decide whether or not a need is even present. If there is a certain group of employees that you believe can benefit from an unlimited data plan, then you should map out their communication and data needs to get a good grasp on where your company stands usage-wise.
While a potential need may be present, you still need to evaluate how your current plan is holding up. This includes examining carrier invoices to determine exactly how much data each employee is consuming on a monthly basis. Look for patterns in how each individual team member uses their data each month – i.e in a 12-month period, if an employee only exceeded their limit once, then it’s safe to conclude that this particular individual does not require an unlimited plan.
However, if employees are consistently hitting (or close to hitting) their monthly limit, then converting to an unlimited plan may reduce financial burden and eliminate any stress team members may feel about racking up overage fees.
Speak With Your Employees
Because switching to an unlimited data plan is a big decision, it’s only right to invite your employees to share their feedback with you. At the end of the day, receiving direct input from your team will help you make a more informed decision and shed valuable light on whether the transition to an unlimited plan is worth the investment.
In today’s tight labor market, offering an unlimited plan may be beneficial to your company’s overall recruitment and retention efforts. If employees see this type of perk as a value-add, then it is certainly a path to consider traveling down. However, it may also be possible that a majority of your staff members already enjoy unlimited data plans on their personal smartphones and thus wouldn’t be a worthwhile avenue to explore.
Businesses tend to benefit from the mobile hotspot feature, known as tethering, which would allow employees to use their cell phones as a wireless access point for their laptops or tablets. Tethering can prove to be extremely useful for client-facing employees who need an internet connection on their laptops to showcase presentations or important data to customers. It also gives your staff an extra layer of connectivity outside of normal parameters so they can get work done wherever, whenever. Flexibility and autonomy are two very important things employees in the modern workplace want from their employers.
The Bottom Line
While examining cellular bills can be tiresome, it’s the best way to ensure your business is getting the most value out for your data plan. In order to fully satisfy your employee’s needs, you need a robust understanding of how much data your staff is consuming and what types of business activities, like frequent travel or communication preferences, may be calling for the switch to an unlimited plan. While unlimited plans do have their perks, they aren’t necessarily right for every business out there. By evaluating your current plan and asking your employees for feedback, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about the best course of action for your company’s cell phone needs.
With all that said, most business owners prefer to hire other companies that offer wireless expense management services to stay away from all the headaches about telecom needs in their companies.