Today cell phones are ubiquitous, and odds are your employees own one. Do you allow them to use their own phones and offer them a monthly allowance or do you purchase phones for them?

Care vs. Control

A recent LinkedIn discussion shows remodeling company owners split on the issue. On the allowance side, most feel as Steve Tinter, president and general manager at Cook Bros., in Arlington, Va., does. His field crews do better owning their own phones: “The phones last longer and they take care of them better when they buy them,” he says.

Purchasers cite control: Ken Sugarman, owner of CMG, in Washington, D.C., provides and pays for smartphones for all his employees. “[They] view it as a perk, and it gives me 100% control over the rules and regulations regarding phone use,” he says, adding that his project management system is fully integrated with the phones.

Control extends to the time that an employee no longer works for you, notes Greg Antonioli, owner of Out of the Woods Construction, in Arlington, Mass. “If you let someone go, you keep the phone, and more importantly, the number. You don’t want vendors, subs, or clients calling the terminated employee” or thinking the number is still your company’s.

By owning the cell phone, you own the billing. You have some backup as to hours worked and whether employees are following your cell phone policy, and it may be used as a tracking device if it’s equipped with GPS, notes construction attorney D.S. Berenson

Company Culture Check

The larger issue is, as Len McAdams, owner of McAdams Remodeling & Design, in Kirkland, Wash., says, “how much time people spend talking or texting on cell phones while ‘working.’” Regardless of the option offered, you need a written cell phone policy for on and off the job, and, yes, failure to abide by it can lead to termination. —Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING

More REMODELING articles about cell phone use and policies:

Off the Hook — The IRS updates its cell phone rules 

ByLaw: Reducing Cell Phone Liability 

Study Says Contractors Go Mobile to Make Purchase Decisions — Technology enables product research and purchase decisions on the jobsite