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The 8 Rules of Work Phones HR's Never Told You
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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
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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.

What types of jobs give work phones?

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.

Can I use my work phone for personal calls?

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. 

Should I use my personal phone for work?

“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.

8 rules

1. Review the company policy.

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. 

2. Keep anything private off your work phone.

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.

3. Remember that you’re representing the company.

That means you should keep all conversations PG and avoid using the phone for anything that might be deemed offensive or otherwise inappropriate. 

4. Avoid using your work phone in certain situations.

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.

5. Always answer the phone professionally.

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. 

6. Keep a separate device for personal use if need be.

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.

7. Back up pertinent information.

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. 

8. Wipe the phone before returning it.

Don’t overlook this important step. You don’t want your employer to have access to your personal data, no matter what.

What is the best phone for work? 

iPhone 11 Pro Max

With a great battery life, bright screen and other helpful features, this year’s iPhone 11 Pro Max is ideal for work. In fact, Apple is gearing its Pro series to professionals — so you know this is perfect for work. It’s only slightly more expensive than the iPhone 11 Pro, and it’s worth it for better features.

Huawei P30 Pro

The 10X hybrid zoom on this phone lets you take amazing pictures, even at night. If photography is part of your job, this is the phone for you. Many call it the best Android out there, and it's a lot cheaper than iPhone alternatives. 

Samsung Galaxy Note10

The S Pen stylus on this and other Galaxy models make them ideal for note-taking. This version also has 12 GB of RAM and a stronger battery life than its predecessors. It also has a huge, high-res screen.

Do you need two phones?

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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