Just received a work phone? It can be highly convenient to have one, not to mention cost-effective. But understanding the rules — unspoken or not — can be a little tricky. Are you allowed to use it for personal matters? Should you keep a separate personal phone? What are the risks of having a work phone? Keep reading to find out.
Today, many jobs give out phones to employees that they can use as long as they’re employed with the company. While in the past, this usually only happened with high-level employees, many other employees are receiving them these days, too. For instance, an executive assistant might need one to stay in contact with the office when she’s away, just as a CEO would need one to deal with urgent matters and clients efficiently. In general, jobs that rely heavily on staying in contact with others, such as sales positions, come with work phones, so the employee won’t need to give contacts their personal number or pay hefty phone bills.
This is a case-by-case-basis issue. Many employees do use their work phones to make personal calls. Some even sync them with their personal devices. Unless your employee handbook or phone policy specifically says not to, it’s probably acceptable to use it for personal reasons. Just remember to wipe it when you leave or have to give it back.
Also, keep in mind that this is company property, and your employer may have access to what’s on your phone. That means you should avoid conducting any personal business on your phone that you wouldn’t want your employer to see.
“Bring your own device” (BYOD) situations are somewhat common, too. This means your employer expects you to use your own device for work matters. If they’re helping foot the bill, this can be an acceptable situation for many workers — although others may be uncomfortable with the arrangement and prefer to keep their personal and work lives separate.
If your company has a BYOD policy, be sure to review the rules carefully. For example, are there certain apps you won’t be able to use? Will you be expected to foot the entire bill? If you’re not okay will any of these rules, you may not want to use your personal phone for work. On the other hand, you will likely have more privacy, since you’re not using a company device.
Before you set about taking your vacation pics on your company phone, make sure you read all the rules carefully. You may be restricted from using the device for personal reasons, for example. You might also not be able to record sensitive data. If you’re uncomfortable with any of the rules, discuss them with your manager and HR before signing any agreements.
Even if you’re allowed to use the work phone for personal reasons, anything super private should be kept off of your phone entirely. Understand that work can and may see it, and you don’t want them to have access to inappropriate or sensitive photos and other information.
That means you should keep all conversations PG and avoid using the phone for anything that might be deemed offensive or otherwise inappropriate.
This goes without saying, but you should never use the phone while driving unless it’s via Bluetooth (that’s true of any phone). You may not be able to use it for personal reasons during work hours, and at appointments and meetings, you should always keep it on silent.
Since this is a company-owned device, you must maintain professionality whenever using it. Answer the phone with your name and a greeting, rather than just saying “Hello?” unless you know the caller at the other end personally.
If you’re not allowed to use your work phone for personal reasons, or if you’re just not comfortable doing so, have a separate phone. You’ll have maximum control over this device, so it may be a good idea anyway.
Anything you might need later should be backed up to the cloud or another drive. You never know what might happen — you could lose the phone, get fired or quit and later realize you need access to information on a phone you no longer have.
Don’t overlook this important step. You don’t want your employer to have access to your personal data, no matter what.
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This depends on your situation. Some people may not need a separate work phone and personal phone. Others may find it useful. If your company policy restricts personal use, it’s probably a good idea to keep a separate device. Plus, if you use one phone for so many purposes — checking work and personal email, responding to calls, texting and so on, you could quickly drain the battery life. In the end, it’s your call (although keep in mind that, especially if work foots the entire bill, you’ll save money with one device).
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