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I work in a technology department at a bank which requires us to be available after hours if anything comes up that could affect the business systems and affect our customers. Of course, there is always a person in turn for each week so a call is less likely to happen after work if it's somebody else's turn. For this reason, we all get a work phone when we are hired.

I’m the type of employee who likes to keep my personal phone for personal uses only but then some coworkers have a culture of just carrying one phone and they think it's ok to just use the personal phone numbers for contacting others instead of just calling their business phone the company provides. Some of them also gave out my personal phone number to people I don't get along with, without my permission.

I was able to talk about this with my boss and he is respecting my personal space. He just calls my business phone for work matters. But I have trouble with some people to whom my personal number was given and some of my friends. Although I threatened to block whoever disrespected my personal space, some of them still do it and in my country's culture, it's not friendly to do that.

So in an attempt to fix this, I’m considering these options:

Option 1

  1. Get a new private phone and keep it a secret to friends (outside work) and family.
  2. Keep my former personal phone as a public one and set it up on the business phone (double sim).

The benefit is I could give out my former personal number for freelance jobs and for future employers then keep my new number private.

Option 2

Block whoever violates my personal space. This makes me feel bad sometimes because I feel terrible for blocking friends and sometimes I have to unblock them back for talking about personal stuff. Not to mention one of those friends passed away last week.

What would be the most professionally friendly approach that also solves my personal space limit issue?

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    I do not understand this question. Why don't you block the coworkers you don't like or that don't respect your private life on your personal phone and keep them on your work phone? – Helena Feb 27 at 6:55
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    Do these calls on private phone only happen when it's your turn to be available on the business phone? Or do they call you at any time? In the latter case you would quickly stop that by telling the caller to call the right person - that makes more effort to them, so they would get used to call the business phone. – puck Feb 27 at 16:36
  • This question doesn't have a country tag, but if you're located in Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, or the US, you could just solve those problems by getting yourself a free Google Voice number. – Stephan Branczyk Mar 1 at 2:22
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The answer is extremely simple.

Do not answer the private phone to any work colleagues.

Block every number from business, or, just don't answer it.

If you do accidentally answer one, say the words,

Ah, hi Steve. Please call me back on my work phone. Thanks. Talk to you in a minute.

Or perhaps

"HI Steve, This is a private number. I will call you back on my work phone. Hanging up now..."

And then block that number.

Remember that you cannot control other people.

I get annoying calls on phone lines (spam, etc) all day - I just hang up, or perhaps say in a few words "don't call this number."

Note: you mention you feel "bad" or something about blocking numbers?

That is bizarre - it's perfectly normal to block people in a business setting in relation to multiple phone lines. It's nothing.

Indeed, people completely normally block even their spouses, children, parents on business phones in a situation with various phone lines - it's completely normal and for their benefit. Note that similarly (indeed for the benefit of friends/family on one hand and separate projects on the other hand) in a multi-email situation one keeps them all totally separate. It's a non-issue and normal.

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    "People completely normally block their spouses" - Maybe it's me, but I can't see that going over well! :) – Luke Feb 27 at 17:15
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    This is a good answer, except for that last paragraph. I find it completely bizarre that people would block their spouses, children, etc. on any phone. If there's an emergency at home, I would think people need to know about it, instead of having to go through hoops of "which phone do I call them on". – computercarguy Feb 27 at 17:35
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    @computercarguy: I would like to point out that "being available for emergencies" is highly overrated: Not so long ago, people did not have cell phones and were completely unreachable for hours at a time. If an emergency happens, 112 (or 911, depending on your country) is the number to call. Everything else is not life-threatening and, thus, can wait. – Heinzi Feb 27 at 19:54
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    @Heinzi, if your family is in a car wreck, you don't want to find out about it until hours later when you get home and have to call the police to find out where they are? I could list hundreds of other reasons why I'd want to be available. It's not about them calling you to fix an emergency, it's about you being able to meet them at a hospital to work with doctors & nurses for deciding medical care. Or even just to tell a child that a splinter isn't a good reason to call the EMTs. And to calm someone down so they can call the EMTs. "Because it's always been that way" is rarely a reason. – computercarguy Feb 27 at 21:10
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    @Heinzi Much as that was the case in the not-too-recent past (and even then, people weren't always as unavailable as you'd think—in an emergency, you'd start calling places where someone could be in an effort to track them down), it's not the case now, and blocking a spouse from calling about a child's hospitalization because they called the wrong number would be unthinkable now in many families. – Zach Lipton Feb 27 at 21:23
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If you're not willing to start blocking people (which, honestly, I think you probably should) then a simple way to start enforcing that you want to be called on your business phone is to simply not pick up your personal phone when any of these individuals call.

They'll be forced to switch to your business phone, because what other option do they have?

If people try to complain, what're they really going to complain about? "Jhonnytunes didn't pick up their personal phone, the number of which I'm not even supposed to have, and that I've been explicitly told isn't to be used for work!"? Good luck with that.

And even if you bosses are being unreasonable about it, you can always tell them "I wasn't carrying my personal phone since I didn't want to be disturbed. Except, of course, for a business emergency, which I why I did carry my business phone with me."

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  • While 100% correct, this answer misses the emphasis. The entire answer to the question is "of course obviously you just block everyone". It's that simple - note that blocking them is of course the polite, normal thing to do from their point of view. It's most convenient for them. It's completely, totally normal to block people on a certain phone line. – Fattie Feb 27 at 14:40
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    I’d add that changing the voicemail on the personal phone to say something like “if your call is related to [business name], please hang up and call [work phone number]”. That would help prevent potential complaints of the OP shirking their work duties from anyone who has the wrong expectations of the personal phone number. – Todd Wilcox Feb 27 at 14:51
  • Lol the complaint part was funny actually. – Jhonnytunes Feb 27 at 15:09
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    @Fattie It is not polite to either block or ignore calls from people, but it can be necessary to deal with people who aren't being very polite towards you (or for other reasons). I can only guess what might be polite and normal from some other person's points of view, but in my experience many or most people think the same as I do about this (and those who tend not to be very polite tend to complain the loudest about getting blocked). – NotThatGuy Feb 27 at 15:14
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    @Fattie It saddens me greatly to learn that someone has you as a parent. – user124513 Feb 28 at 15:06
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If they are your friends then they will respect your personal space. They will phone you for work on the work number, and as they have a work phone they can easily do that by having your work number on that work phone.

If they don’t respect your personal space then block them when they phone your personal number . If it is work related they will ring your work phone : easy.

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