Can Your Employer Ban Texting at Work?

Banning the use of texting in the workplace would give employers a reprieve on meeting compliance requirements and prevent hackers from infiltrating their networks, but enforcement could be an arduous task.

Since the use of smartphones for business communications is ubiquitous as more companies expect employees to be reachable beyond their standard work hours, preventing the use of texting is not realistic.

"Prohibition of text messaging does not work and leaves an organization exposed," said Mike Pagani, senior director of product marketing at Smarsh, a Portland, Ore.-based provider of cloud-based information archiving solutions.

One of the largest risks to compliance for a company is text messaging and not social media since nearly all employees have either a company-owned smartphone or a personal one. A survey conducted by Smarsh in February and March 2017 of 119 individuals in the financial services industry with direct compliance supervision responsibilities showed that 42% reported that employees requested to use text messaging for business reasons. This number doubled from 2016.

The survey showed that texting presented the largest issue for companies with 52% of the respondents, which ranged from C-level management to chief compliance officers along with compliance department staff, which agreed. Only 33% of compliance employees said social media posed as another problem while 8% said instant messaging was a problem and 7% said website content was the source of the issue.

Out of the companies which said they allowed employees to communicate via texting, 48% said they do not have a retention or oversight solution presently.

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