Pros and Cons of Using a Personal Phone for Work

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published May 3, 2021

Employees commonly use cell phones in the workplace for productivity and communication. Some companies supply their employees with work cell phones, whereas others require that their employees provide their own devices. Using your personal cell phone for work purposes can benefit you in some ways, while it may present challenges in others. In this article, we examine who uses cell phones for work, the different types of workplace cell phone policies and five pros and cons of using your personal cell phone for work.

Who uses personal cell phones for work?

Employees in sales, IT, repair or management are among those who use their personal cell phones for work to increase their efficiency. Being a mobile technology, cell phones are often nearby at all times, allowing users to contact colleagues about project details, instructions or important notices with less concern about missed calls. Cell phones also help these employees keep in close contact with clients, who can communicate their requests with ease. This increased communication between all parties can help employees complete their work quickly and more accurately.

Related: What Is Mobile Device Management and Why Does It Matter?

What are the different types of workplace cell phone policies?

Workplace cell phone polices often fall under four categories, each of which are acronyms. These are:

  • COBO (Company-owned, business only): The company provides a cell phone to the employee, who may use the device only for work-related purposes.

  • COPE (Company-owned, personally enabled): The company provides a cell phone to the employee, but the employee can personalize the device and use it for purposes unrelated to work.

  • CYOD (Choose your own device): The employee chooses a phone from a company-approved list of devices that meet the technical criteria for the company. The company loads company-required software onto the phone and maintains security, but the employee may use it as as personal device for the duration of their employment.

  • BYOD (Bring your own device): The employees uses their personal cell phones for work. The employee is responsible for installing the necessary software and maintaining the security of the device.

Related: BYOD: What Does 'Bring Your Own Device' Mean?

5 Pros of using a personal phone for work

There are a number of reasons why an employee might prefer to use their personal phone for work, including:

Personal control and familiarity

Many cell phone users have strict personal preferences about the brand, model and operating system of the devices they use. When you use your personal phone for work, you have full control over these preferences, and you can continue to use a device that you enjoy and are familiar with. In effect, using a personal phone for work may be more enjoyable, prompting a greater sense of satisfaction and desire to complete work with the device.

Simplicity

You might find that using your personal phone for work is the simpler option. When your personal phone and work phone are the same, you don't have to worry about remembering to take a second device to and from work, and you are free from worry about confusing one for the other. Additionally, there is no concern about being responsible for property that isn't yours, so you can handle the device as you please.

Improved communication

If your employer or a colleague has important information to relay to you, reaching you on your personal device helps to ensure that you receive the message. This could be especially helpful in the event of approaching deadlines, time-sensitive questions or weekend work, when you and your colleagues are likely to be separated by physical distance.

Potential cost savings

In some cases, employers may place employees who use their personal devices for work on a company cell phone contract, in which case the employer partially or entirely pays for the employee phone bills. Another possibility is a reimbursement plan in which the employer determines how much of your phone use is work-related and pays you back an appropriate amount of money to cover the cost.

Freedom to upgrade

You may decide that newer or just different model of phone is better suited to your work-related needs. Because you are providing your own work phone, you are free to change devices, which opens up the potential for you to have access to the latest cell phone technologies. Using faster and more-capable devices can help you get your work done more efficiently.

5 cons of using a personal phone for work

Using a personal phone for work isn't ideal for everyone. Some may face challenges involving the following issues:

Work-life balance

When you use your personal phone for work, you also invite work into your personal life. Although maintaining communication is a good workplace practice, it is equally important for your mental health and well-being that you establish a boundary between your professional and personal lives. Try speaking with management about adding a "phones off" clause to a BYOD policy, in which they discourage work-related communication after a certain hour in order to promote work-life balance.

Related: 10 Tips for a Better Work-Life Balance Now (That Actually Work)

Privacy

If your company requires that you install security applications on your personal cell phone, they may have access to sensitive personal information such as photos, emails, and search history. In some cases, they may be able to monitor how you use the phone on your own time. If this is a cause of concern, you could try setting up a separate business-related account on the phone, which would separate the work and personal identities associated with it.

Restricted use

Depending on your company, your BYOD policy may have certain restrictions on how you use your cell phone. Certain social media applications as well as functions such as GPS could be considered invasive of the phone's data, prompting your company to prohibit their use. If you commonly use these functions on your phone, and you can afford a second device, you may want to consider acquiring a separate phone strictly for business use.

Related: How Employers Enforce Cell Phone Policies in the Workplace

Security and liability

A cell phone used for work could be an access point for sensitive company information, so it's important to install and frequently update any recommended security software to protect against viruses and malware. Additionally, you may want to be mindful about how you use your phone in public, as using a public WiFi network or misplacing the phone itself could compromise company data.

Data loss

Some BYOD policies ask that employees erase the data from their phones when they leave the company. It is possible that this could lead to the loss of personal information such as phone numbers, photos and text messages. Try speaking with your company's IT department to see whether you can securely back up important personal data before you erase all of the device's data.

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