Winterizing Wireless Phones: Ensure Safety and Security for Employees This Winter

Denise Hutton

March 2005

While many of us revel in beautiful winter weather, it’s important that, as business leaders, we all plan for the unexpected to keep employees safe and maintain productivity and efficiency during cold and stormy weather.

More than 80 percent of wireless phone owners cite safety and security as the top reasons for owning a wireless phone. With that in mind, businesses should consider having their employees "winterize” their wireless phones just as they might winterize their automobiles.

It is also important to remind your employees of the safety that a wireless phone can provide while also making sure they understand the importance of leaving the networks open in times of major emergencies for those who desperately need to reach someone for help.

U.S. Cellular offers some basic tips and advice on turning wireless phones into tools for safety and efficiency this winter:

Have employees pre-program emergency phone numbers into their phones. Make sure they can easily access any home, wireless phone or office lines they might need to reach at any hour. Make sure that your company has all employees’ wireless phone numbers on file so that they can be reached in case of office closures or business emergencies.

Take advantage of text messaging. When wireless networks are overloaded with people trying to make emergency calls, text messages of 25 words or less, tapped out on a phone’s keypad, can be transmitted because they are less demanding on a wireless network. They also require less time to reach their destination, resulting in more people connecting even when voice calls cannot. Incorporate text messaging into your business’ emergency plan.

Consider requiring employees and contractors to use hands-free devices, especially while driving, to help reduce distraction and maintain focus on the road. Hands-free devices will enable your employees to maintain focus on the road by keeping their hands on the wheel. Services such as voice-activated dialing also eliminate distractions. Find out if your wireless carrier offers a roadside assistance plan, which can be similar to assistance plans offered by automobile associations. For example, U.S. Cellular’s Roadside Assistance Plan provides up to $50 in service calls or four calls a year for services including flat tire changes, lockouts, fuel delivery, towing and winching. Unlike traditional roadside plans, the wireless roadside assistance account is usually not linked to a name. Instead, the person carrying the phone automatically becomes the authorized user so the service can be shared among a family.

Remind employees to keep their phones prepared. Employees should charge their phones and pack an extra battery when getting ready for trips, and keep that battery warm, because cold can render a wireless phone useless. Also, remind employees to keep the phone accessible. Packing it in the trunk with their luggage won’t help if they need instant communication.

As with almost all aspects of our businesses, some simple wireless planning can save money and time and prevent injury. Be sure to apply these winter wireless tips to your planning as you and your employees venture out into our winter wonderland this year.

About the Author
Denise Hutton is the director of sales for U.S. Cellular in central Oregon. U.S. Cellular has been providing service to central Oregon since 1991. For more information, visit the company’s Web site at www.uscellular.com.
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