To eliminate costs employers frequently give employees the option of using their personal cell phones to conduct work activity. Many employees find it easier to use their personal device of preference over using a company device they “don’t like” so this option is often a great medium for both. Here’s the catch-22 -employers may have the authority to wipe your entire personal phone clean if you resign or are terminated from the company.
You see, you have access to their privileged information and they have to protect this information at all costs. Now granted, employers do pay a portion of your bill in turn for this arrangement; however one must ask; does the expectation become that you must respond to all communications no matter the time/day because they pay a portion of the bill? When does work time end and personal time begin; and vice versa?
Naturally, some employees may feel that it is unfair to wipe their phones clean, causing them to lose all their personal contacts information; however, that does not protect the employer. How must the employer differentiate a personal contact entry from a business contact entry?
Through my personal experience and conversations with many friends and colleagues over the years, I’ve found one thing in common; many employers place burdensome demands on employees that have a flexible schedule while refusing to give them company cell phones to perform such duties. These demands significantly impact work/life balance.
Now there are pros and cons for each side of this personal cell phone use debacle; but who benefits the most here? Is it equally beneficial or more so for the employer or employee?
I find that many flexible associates prefer to use their personal cell phones because personal cell phones allow them to do things a company cell phone wouldn’t normally allow; such as texting and taking photographs. On the other hand, people tend to be more productive and cautious when they use a company cell phone to conduct work. Because they know there are limits and boundaries they should not cross when using company equipment, they are more thoughtful with their communications.
So let’s say you prefer working from your personal device and want to avoid the hassle of keeping up with two mobile devices. Do you feel obligated to answer a work email or texts received on your personal time? Imagine how much more time you spend checking company emails and sending text messages or photo’s that are work related from your personal device rather than having a company device that you can lock away when you decide that work time is over and personal time begins. Is it possible to stop work communications from invading your phone while using the same device for personal communications? Or maybe there’s a magical button which allows one to shut off work mode and turn on personal mode? Either way, using a company device separate from your personal device allows you to have the option to physically separate yourself from work and focus on personal time without work interruptions.
If you opt to keep work with work and personal with personal, once you part ways with the organization your separation will be a clean one. If the company requires you to have access to features such as picture-taking and texting to conduct the work they require you to do, then it is only appropriate for you to have a company cell phone. There is no law that requires you use your personal device for work. Paying for a portion of your bill to conduct work on your personal cell phone comes at a greater cost to you ¾ losing your personal information, photos, emails and much more when you part ways.
My advice – read your pro forma agreement before you connect to a personal device; it’ll tell you a lot about what you can and cannot do with your personal phone and its contents if you choose to use it for company work. Lauren Weber said it best in her article in the Wall Street Journal “Phone wiping is just another example of the complications that emerge when the distinctions between our work and personal lives collapse”.
So what do you think? Do you think that employers should warn employees before they are going to wipe the phone clean? Or is it appropriate for employers to allow time for employees to save their personal information from being wiped out? Can employees who are leaving an organization be trusted with company information?
Can’t wait to hear from you!
All the best,
Mary V. Davids
Mary V. Davids is the Founder and Managing Member of D&M Consulting Services, LLC. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management. Mary has over a decade of experience in cultivating employee engagement, enhancing employee motivation and workplace performance, leadership coaching and training & development. She also serves as Secretary on the Board of Directors for the South Florida Chapter of the National Association of African American’s in Human Resources. Book Mary to speak at your next event or hire Mary for leadership & professional development consultation today. Follow Mary on twitter @MVDavids.