California Cutting 48000 Government Cell Phones: But, What if More Mobility is the Real Cost Cutting Answer?

Once (1975-1983) and current California Governor Jerry Brown has issued an order for half of all government paid cell phones to be returned and have their service terminated in a cost savings move. 40% of California state employees have government issued cell phones. This results in a total of 96,000 cell phones paid for by the State of California. 48,000 of these phones will be turned in resulting in a $20 million per year cost savings.

Dialing back: Calif. governor targets cell phones

While this all seems reasonable, I wonder if there is another way to deal with California’s government employee cell phone use. What if we turned the problem around and asked why 40% of employees have government funded cell phones? Could it be because their work frequently takes them out of the office? If so, even greater cost savings might be possible by rethinking the traditional workspace and communications infrastructure. Wired telephones, for example, are not just for individual employee use. They are found in conference rooms, utility rooms, and many other places where they may be sporadically used. If office space itself is sparingly used by 40% of California government employees, a rethinking of workspace may result in cost savings.

There’s been a lot of experimentation with shared workspaces and community areas over the past couple of decades. Perhaps the answer is not reducing the number of cell phones. Instead, the answer might be increasing mobility and reducing conventional structured office spaces that are rarely used by mobile workers.