I love working at my office, but separate my work from my home/personal life.

Recently I had to call my manager from my cell phone due to problems with the office phones. Since I called him, he has my personal cell phone number. While he hasn't called it, I don't want to be put in the situation where I have to ignore the call in the future, or create an awkward situation because I didn't communicate my expectations to him at the time.

Since he hasn't used it, I don't want to come across as paranoid or hostile, but I would like to make sure that it's clear that the call was made due to a technical problem in the office, and isn't an invitation to use that number for work-related business in the future.

How can I bring this up in a non-confrontational way with my manager?

  • what does your contract say? – gnat Mar 13 '14 at 7:01
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    Hey umair, and welcome to The Workplace. As-is, this isn't a great fit with the guidelines in our help center because it is asking you if it's okay to feel the way you do, and not an actual problem that you're facing that can be solved. If you could edit to focus on a specific issue ("How can I request my manager not to call my personal number for work-related questions?") then you will get better answers. Thanks in advance! – jmac Mar 13 '14 at 7:05
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    If it ever becomes to much for you to handle, you can always change your cell phone number. ATT will do it for $36. – crh225 Mar 13 '14 at 19:25
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    Hey umair, I'm going to make an edit to your post to prevent it from getting closed. If you think I missed something or can improve it, feel free to make an edit of your own. Thanks in advance! – jmac Mar 14 '14 at 0:08

You're certainly entitled to feel any way you want.

But in this particular situation, I wouldn't get too carried away. It sounds like the only interaction you've had on your personal cell phone is that you called your boss. He hasn't called you back on that line, he hasn't called you after hours, he hasn't done anything yet that would lead you to believe that he thought he now has the right to contact you this way - has he? So right now, your main concern is over what might happen.

So you don't know yet what your boss is thinking. For all you know, he deleted you from his call logs because he values the separation of work life and home life as much as you do.

In all honesty, your company should have some of your personal contact info, for example:

  • They probably have a phone number and address to contact you at in case of emergencies. Here in Boston, MA, companies use personal phones (home or cell) for alerting employees of snow emergencies and other safety-related reasons for abrupt office closure. The general thought is that safety trumps privacy.

  • They know enough about you to send you your paycheck. I'd bet there are some places that still provide paper checks delivered in person at the office, but a very substantial number of companies either mail a check to your home or deposit it directly in a personal bank account.

  • There was some transmission of knowledge for health insurance - typically actual health information is kept private between you and the insurance provider, but often home address and phone are used as part of account setup.

  • In many teams with flexible hours, the Admin or the team itself keeps a call list of where to find people. In a team with no on-call obligation, this is usually used with caution. The times I've seen it used is generally for day time contact when all else has failed and the issue is urgent. In other words, if people can find you in the office during the day, they won't be calling your cell.

For your particular scenario, here's what I'd do:

1 - Hang tight - if the boss never calls you on your cell, assume he respects your separation of work and personal life.

2 - If he calls - consider the occasion. If this was a really important case, during working hours when he had every right to go looking for you, and you were not findable by in-office means - then let it go. In this case, the argument could be made that if you had been where you want to be (in the office), he wouldn't have resorted to your cell. But if this is a not important case, and you are sitting at your desk - it's time for a chat. The chat can be casual, but you are within your rights to say that you use that cell number explicitly for personal communication, and you would much prefer that he call your work line. Problems with the work phones really aren't your problem - if the company is not capable of providing adequate land line calling, they are more than welcome to GIVE you a second cell phone or offer to pay your cell phone bill.

Realize that norms are changing here. I've seen here that the expectations of connectivity are getting greater and greater as people carry more and more electronics. It's fair to set limits on when and how you are contacted, particularly in your personal space - which includes both your home and your personal electronic contact mechanisms. But it's fair for the office to define the level of connectivity that they expect from you during the time that you give them during your work hours. For example, if they expect to be able to contact you within 5 minutes during the workday, that's their right. If it takes a cell phone to achieve that - it's something to discuss.


Uhmm NO. Since that is your PERSONAL number, and you have your WORK number designated to you, you have all the RIGHT to ignore his/her calls through your personal number. He/she is OBLIGATED to call you via your WORK number because it's WORK-related. It's easy as that (for me).

In some companies where the employees are not given their work numbers, their co-workers have no choice but to contact them on their personal numbers. That's acceptable, but still, discipline should be imposed.

  • cant vote up your answer as that requires a 15 rep score. – umair Mar 13 '14 at 9:13
  • What kind of rights and obligations? Legal? Contractual? – Blrfl Mar 14 '14 at 13:19

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