I go between my desk and the warehouse throughout the day and will leave my personal cell and work cell at my desk. Is it okay for my boss to answer either cell?

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    Do you leave your phone on silent mode when you leave? Or do you leave it out in plain sight with a loud ringing sound when someone calls? Did you tell anyone "don't answer my phone" or did you leave it out within reach of anyone and assume that no one will think about answering it if it starts to ring?
    – Brandin
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 7:21
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    dilbert.com/strip/2003-07-04 Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 8:08
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    Comments deleted: Please don't use comments for debate or discussion. Comments are intended to help a poster improve a post or to seek clarification. Instead, please use The Workplace Chat. See What comments are not... for more details.
    – jmort253
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 9:43
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    Your question is not clear. Do you mean "should I ask my boss to answer my phone?", "should I switch my phone off when I can't answer it?", "should I give my boss permission to answer my phone, just in case they want to?", or "should my boss answer my phone even though I don't want him to speak to my callers?" Please give some context: do you expect calls from recruiters, from customers, or urgent personal messages from your family. Are your calls so urgent that you need your boss to answer, or do you expect your calls to be so private that you don't want your boss to know who called?
    – Qsigma
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 12:58
  • The issue I don't really see being addressed here is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). It sounds like this may not be a BYOD situation, but the fact is that many businesses embrace BYOD, which means that you use your personal mobile device for work. This blurs lines, obviously, and depending on company policies I may choose not to do that. Some people work for companies with policies which state that if the device touches the company network at all, the company has the right to analyze ALL of the data on the device. In such a situation, I would maintain a strict separation. Commented Sep 16, 2018 at 20:28

5 Answers 5


I go between my desk and the warehouse throughout the day and will leave my personal cell and work cell at my desk. Is it okay for my boss to answer either cell?

I think you are asking the wrong question. The obvious naive answer is no it's not ok.

But why is your boss even in the position to answer either your private or your work cell phone?

Your private cell phone is private. It should never be on your desk and it should never make a sound that can be heard by your colleagues. Put it in your pocket, put it in a drawer or leave it at home. Set it to vibrate or silent mode. Don't leave it ringing on your desk. That's very annoying.

Your work cell phone should never be unattended at your desk. Well, maybe if you take a break in the restroom, but that's it. If your company had wanted you to have a phone at your desk only, they would have installed such a phone. But they gave you a mobile phone. Leaving it at your desk on purpose is not only annoying all your coworkers when it rings, but probably directly against the intention of giving you a mobile phone in the first place. The point of a mobile phone is to be able to reach you while you are not at your desk. So when it does ring at your desk, you boss can only assume it's a call for work and you forgot your phone. So yes, he has a good reason to answer it, he is covering for you.

So the bottom line is: your private phone should be silent somewhere inaccessible to your boss, while your work phone should be on you, where you can answer it. Asking your boss to stop answering either phone will only point out that you fail to handle your cell phones correctly. Instead, take care of your phones from now on.

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    I think "never make a sound" is getting a bit overboard. Like all things its a balance. The term I see frequently used is "reasonable personal use," so if your wife calls once to see what you want from the store its fine, but if you're texting with your best friend all day its not. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 13:49
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    @DavidGrinberg If talking to one's wife is ok is up to the parties of the employment contract. However, even if it is, to get a call from your wife it's not necessary for your phone to disturb others. Put it in your pocket and turn vibration on. No need for loud or repeated ringing noises.
    – nvoigt
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 14:38
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    @DavidGrinberg I don't think "never make a sound" is overboard. The only reason I would say it's okay to have it off vibrate is if you're doing something that doesn't allow you to have it on your person, for example you're on some scaffolding and answering it at that time would be dangerous, but you need to know it's going off. This environment is probably loud enough anyway that it won't cause a distraction. The other is for emergency notifications (when our servers go down, our phone goes bonkers) but that's INTENDED to be annoying and noticible. Other than that, turn the damn thing down.
    – corsiKa
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 17:48
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    Another alternative is to put on a ringtone that is chosen to be as non-invasive as possible. Not that it could never get annoying, but "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" (which I use personally) isn't as jarring as, say, "Highway to Hell" if you're working out some algorithm in your head and hear it from your cellmate's desk.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 16:47
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    @corsiKa: one way to look at this is that if the phone call is sufficiently important and urgent that the phone needs to ring, then it's sufficiently important and urgent that the phone's owner should be there to hear/answer it. The exact nature and frequency of those calls is up for negotiation. The basic equation remains that if you can't hear your own phone there's no point it ringing. And OK, maybe you're up a ladder and the phone ringing is your cue to come down and fix the servers, but the questioner doesn't have that excuse, they're asking about when they're in the warehouse... Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 10:43

I do not think it is really at all ethical for your boss to be answering your personal cell phone. The company cell phone may be a different matter though depending upon company policy and any set agreements between employees and the management.

Now back to that personal cell phone. If you want it left alone then, rather than having to poll on the internet for advice, use some common sense:

  1. Keep it with you
  2. Shut it off and lock it in a drawer
  3. Place it in an employee locker if one is provided
  4. Leave it at home
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    Set a lock code, and turn the phone off when you leave your desk. Do not tell the boss the code. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 4:17
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    And it on vibrate, or better, silent, so that your boss can't hear it.
    – Herb
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 4:24
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    Your advice is not really practical. People have personal phones in order to be reachable at all times (or almost at all times). I doubt there are many people who buy a phone just to keep it at home all day or locked up in a drawer. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 7:56
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    @RaduMurzea: the OP apparently does not want to be reachable at all times, judging from the fact that he leaves the phone on his desk when he leaves. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 8:40
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    @StephenKolassa or he could just, not answer the phone when he doesn't want to answer the phone?
    – user53718
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 9:11

Yes, it's ethical. You left a noisy, disruptive device on your desk; it's entirely reasonable for your boss, or anyone else your carelessness is disturbing, to take polite steps to deal with the nuisance you have caused to your co-workers. For a work phone I cannot see any issue at all. (This assumes that your boss picked the phone up and answered in polite fashion, if he's picking up the phone and pretending to be you or answering in a "joke" fashion that's another issue).

If you don't want this to happen then switch your phone off, put it to silent and non-vibrating mode, or keep it on your person.

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    -1 It's never ethical to answer another persons private phone without permission. If the ringing is disturbing, it's perfectly reasonable to reject the call, but answering isn't. (For work phones it's of course a different situation)
    – raznagul
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 8:52
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    rejecting a call is fine (but better is to mute it) but if it ringed more than 1 time , its totally reasonable to pick it up as it can be some call going unattended, the boss is not misusing any thing kept at table or playing games in his phone, or eating his lunch, he did what a logical person will do. Its perfectly fine as per my thinking.
    – Friendy
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 9:17
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    A minor annoyance does not justify unauthorized access to a personal computing device. Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 17:13
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    @CodesInChaos Minor annoyance for 20 peoples, is big problem, specially if that disturbs them from work and interupts working process(like talking with clients). I hope you do not make mistakes like OP do, counting them not important.
    – MolbOrg
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 3:58
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    @CodesInChaos Answering a phone is not "access to a personal computing device"; don't be so melodramatic. Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 7:16

No No No No, I personally believe its not Ok to any one to access your cell without your permission until and unless you have given any one to access your cell.

Logically it should not be the case that someone else answer your call without your permission. Because your cell is something which is to be not shared, in the same way your personal passwords are private.

In this case, if your boss sometimes answers the calls from your cell, then please keep your cell with you, at least your personal cell. Directly telling your boss that "You don't have the right to answer calls on on my cell", is a bad idea as it will make you appear rude in front of him and that will affect how he considers your attitude".

Adding a cell phone password will not solve your problem as you can answer a call without unlocking the phone so its my personal point of view that the best course of action is to keep your personal cell with you.

  • Others can use his bottle and lunch or whatever if it was that way(which is wrong )... but cellphone is different thing , if they were playing games on that I can consider it wrong, but they did right thing by answering a phone call which would have left been unattended, also it was not on silent.
    – Friendy
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 8:45
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    Can you please put this as answer if you are sure? lets share your views to all Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 8:48
  • already jack aidley has written that's why i have not done
    – Friendy
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 9:13
  • I don't agree with you here. If someone's cell phone is left unattended, it isn't unethical to answer it. After all, it could be the owner trying to find it. It's more a matter of whether someone cares about invading your privacy or not, and even that, while rude, isn't unethical. Unethical is dishonest, not rude. Pretending to be someone you're not is unethical, for example answering texts on someone else's phone as if you are the owner. Trying to find out things about someone by answering the phone and listening to the other party without identifying yourself is unethical.
    – BobRodes
    Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 8:10
  • Removed the word "Ethical" from answer which was creating confusion to everyone Commented Jul 23, 2016 at 8:24

Place, stick big red label private, on both sides of your phone, switch it in silent mode(no vibro, no sound).

Make crystal clear for any which one is your personal phone and which one is work phone. Do it in such a way that any person without asking you, will know which one is which and will pick work phone if it is required.

Also, expect unexpected in cases if you forget someday to switch the personal phone to silent mode.

It's not ok to answer personal phone, and it's ok for you to make EVERYTHING possible such way, that no one have to answer your phone.

And if you didn't, then yes it's ok to answer your phone, especially thinking that you have forgotten your phone and now you are searching for it, even if caller name is pornostart69.

Best is to get rid of the bad habit of leaving phones in random places if one is sharing a workplace with other workers, no one needs to hear your laladance ringtone for 5-10 minutes when one tries to call you.

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