Location based services can be used to track employee whereabouts outside of work.
“Location, location, location” is the mantra in the retail industry signifying the importance of being properly positioned to attract customers and drive revenue. This saying is also relevant for mobile device users; and it is empowered using location based services (LBS) and applications. LBS can be a very useful tool for employers to track inventory, fleet vehicles and employees. Supply chain management practices have been revolutionized by RFID technology, for example. In the case of fleet management, optimizing delivery routes to save fuel, avoid traffic congestion and increase delivery capacity are well known LBS benefits. Tracking the whereabouts of employees also has benefit. In the law enforcement and social services fields, tracking the location of employees can be useful as a safety measure when anomalies in location patterns are observed or employees do not check-in according to protocol. There are limitless positive benefits to LBS.
Enabling employees with mobile devices through a corporate device or BYOD program gives the employer rights to secure the device and the data on the device. These measures are often achieved through mobile device management (MDM) technology. Many MDM software suites offer LBS features that can be used to locate mobile devices as well. The intent is typically to locate lost or stolen devices or to enable or disable capabilities based on geographic location. For example, it is not uncommon for manufacturing facilities to disable cameras on mobile devices when located in the facility.
LBS can also be used to track employee whereabouts outside of work. Was the employee that called in sick really at home? Where are employees spending time outside of work? Are employees visiting a competitor’s office? Was the employee at the dentist or on a job interview? The potential for employers to use LBS to make employment decisions is very possible. Mitigating the fear of big brother monitoring is essential in the mobile everywhere age and employers must be transparent when informing employees about how, why and when LBS will be used.
Timothy C. Colwell is a telecom management industry thought leader exploring the impact of technology as a business accelerator and social capital enabler. Download free telecom management industry thought leadership resources here.