Owning company communications

Author Keith Jennings
January 30,2018 - 10:30am

Most machine shops have employees spread throughout their facilities, and managers aren’t necessarily able to monitor every phone call, email or text message taking place on behalf of companies. Nonetheless, a company—not its employees—owns all business calls and electronic communications.

There’s nothing profound about that, but this matter got my attention when monitoring a senior employee’s email while he was on vacation. He maintains a clean workspace and doesn’t like clutter, which I discovered includes his inbox and email history. Therefore, he deletes everything after reading it. Because I hadn’t needed to check his email for a while, I wasn’t aware he was doing this, even though these records are owned by the company and may need to be referenced later. His position is more shop-floor-based, so he doesn’t send or receive a high volume of emails, but it’s still important to maintain them.

We were able to retrieve his email history from a backup and informed him why it was important to keep company records indefinitely. No matter what kind of business, maintaining records is a requirement, whether hard copy files, digital backups or a combination of both. Employees shouldn’t be arbitrarily deciding which voice mails, emails or files are kept. Thankfully, this employee isn’t one to hide critical information. However, over the years, we’ve had a few employees who did delete unfavorable correspondence, whatever format it may have been.

When employees use personal devices for business, you have no records. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to confirm who called, when they called and from where. But affordable technology is available to minimize this issue and ensure that company business is facilitated through company systems, not inaccessible personal devices.

We solved this problem by utilizing a commercial phone system that allows certain employees to have direct lines to their desks, bypassing the main number. That’s not a new concept by itself, but the integration through an app on their personal devices is newer technology. This app allows them to answer company calls on their devices without incorporating personal usage charges. It also maintains a log of every incoming call, giving shop owners and managers access to those records if needed. In addition, the app on my cell phone shows every incoming call to the company, regardless of the extension, which is quite useful.

All voice mails are maintained through the provider’s cloud storage and accessible anytime. This setup bypasses employees’ personal cell phone accounts, allowing employees to conveniently use their personal cell phones through the company phone system, and ensures that the company has records of this activity. If a call goes to an employee’s direct line and he isn’t at his desk, the call automatically transfers to his personal phone, which he can answer as if he’s in the office. We upgraded our phone system last year to include this technology, and it’s worked well.

Monitor email, backup records daily and utilize affordable technology to ensure that company business is on company technology that you can access. It’s not because employees are doing anything illicit, but because all company correspondence belongs to the company, not to the employees.    


Manager's Desk Columnist

Keith Jennings is president of Crow Corp., Tomball, Texas, a family-owned company focusing on machining, metal fabrication and metal stamping.