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For security reasons, my boss wants to reach us and is worried by the fact that we use our private mobile phones. To remedy this, everyone is getting a company phone with a strict app policy. We are however allowed to use the company phone for private matters and outside of office hours as long as those matters comply with the security policy.

However, I fear this can be distorted in a way for my boss to call me at any day, any time, including when I'm not working.

Is it reasonable for me to leave my company phone in a secured location at my workplace outside the working hours? Meaning that my boss can reach me during work hours on that number, but not outside the same work hours. I don't mind having two phones on me during work, but outside? Very much, because I don't want my boss to call me at any time, but also having a second big object in my pockets is pretty annoying: I can forget it, break it, lose it, etc.

Note that I live in Europe.

As I wrote in a comment below, my job description doesn't include being on call.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Jane S Jun 10 '17 at 11:17
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    As well as receiving unwanted calls, consider that the phone likely can be tracked as to location (at least) as long as it is turned on, which might be considered an invasion of privacy. On the plus side, using your personal phone with company email may require you to (knowingly or not) give permission for some IT dweeb at your employer to wipe your entire phone including photos etc. – Spehro Pefhany Jun 10 '17 at 14:01
  • Just ask your boss and tell them your plan to leave it! The only real issue I can see is you leaving it without him knowing that fact and s/he having different expectations (unknown at this time), so 'hey bossname, I was planning to leave my company phone here, but wanted to check with you...' – Michael Durrant Jun 11 '17 at 1:14
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    Install this in your car. Then, check your phone at your convenience. Blame poor reception in your house. instructables.com/id/Signal-Blocking-Glove-Box – Richard Jun 11 '17 at 10:00
  • Does “reach you” mean text messages? I can't really fathom how apps can tap into phone calls. – JDługosz Jun 11 '17 at 18:58
78

Company expectations matter greatly here, but leaving the phone at work seems dubious.

Of course you should check your company's policies, but the provision of a mobile phone almost always means the company wants you to be reachable in a variety of times and places. If you don't keep the phone with you, it hinders that.

Your desire to not be contacted out of normal hours is reasonable. Your boss may or may not agree (you ought to discuss this with your boss to clarify the expectations and requirements for your role). But even if there is no requirement for being reachable outside working hours, leaving your phone at work is still probably unhelpful.

Consider scenarios like:

  • There is a last minute meeting outside the office, and it makes most sense to go directly from home.
  • You need to stay home for an unplanned reason (weather, car broke down, a family member is ill, etc.).

Even if you aren't "on call" outside normal hours, if you leave the phone at the office you will probably not have it when you need it, at least occasionally.

Too much contact outside of working hours is a legitimate concern, but there are other ways to handle that.

If you truly want to be unreachable outside of office hours, just turn your phone off! This is just as effective in preventing unwanted communication, but at least you have the ability to turn it on and make contact or be contacted should the need arise.

If there is an expectation that you are reachable outside of work hours, and you need to leave it on, I would wait and see if it is a problem before actually doing anything. It may be that your boss hardly ever contacts you. If it does become a problem, previous questions like this one may help.

You don't have to take the phone everywhere--leave it at home when you go out to do other things.

If you are out doing things, at a time when you don't want to be contacted, just leave the phone at home.

Why not just leave it at work, then? Well, at home at least it is accessible to you (as in the scenarios above). Also, leaving it at work is a rather unusual step which might make you seem particularly unhelpful. Leaving it at home doesn't stand out in this way.

  • 16
    Agreed. There should be a discussion about expectations regarding off-hours requirements for availability via phone. I have 2 smartphones, one from work and one personal. I leave the work phone in my bag when I'm at home and during the week I typically check it once after dinner and once again in the morning. My boss understands this and does have my personal cell number for a true emergency (never used it) On weekends, I'll look at it Sunday evening. I'm not "on call" per se, but I don't like surprises either. – DLS3141 Jun 9 '17 at 13:37
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    Back when pagers were a thing, I had a boss who would page people whenever just to "check their response time". I would always toss my pager in the glovebox as soon as I left and not look at it until the morning. One weekend, he paged me about 11pm on Sat. I responded by walking into his office on Monday morning and asking him what he needed. "I need you to have your pager with you at all times." The next weekend, I went sailing and the pager got wet, destroying it. Got a new one. He told me not to wear it where it would get wet. I went sailing a lot until he retired – DLS3141 Jun 9 '17 at 13:50
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    Well, the two scenarios you spoke about are the one that convince me to take the phone, but I'll turn it on only right before leaving home and turn it off as soon as I leave my workplace. We weren't presented with the policy yet as we only got the announcement (which made me frown upon), but I make sure to not sign anything limiting me. – Someone Jun 9 '17 at 14:21
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    For android phones there are apps to put the phone on silent at certain times (I use one called "silent night" on my personal phone overnight because I detest being woken by stupid apps. It doesn't block calendar reminders or alarms. Some phones have this built in, which would get round app policies. I've also got my work emails on my phone, but in a client that's set to only notify me during working plus commuting (train) hours. In other words there are tools that help, if you look for them – Chris H Jun 9 '17 at 15:09
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    I disagree with this answer. I have a company provided phone that solely lies on my desk and I never bring it home. If any of my colleagues want to contact me after I have left work, they have to call me on my private phone number (which is not kept secret). Any company that has trouble doing that for employees that are not specifically paid to be on call have a very serious expectation problem. – hlovdal Jun 9 '17 at 20:49
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You should either have or get a additional contract what to do with your company phone. It should detail where you are allowed to store it, how you can use it etc.

Normally, company phones are issued so you can be reached when you are out of the office, so leaving it in the office is missing the point.

You need to talk to your supervisor about this. Ask him when you are expected to be on call and what the details are (reaction times, pay).

If it turns out to be "just a phone" and no on-call duties ask if it's okay to leave it at the workplace when you leave for the day. If it's not okay to leave it there, just shut it down when you leave work.

  • 1
    Spot on, most probably on the have side. Usually when such devices are handed over the employee has to sign a receipt. Big enough corporations also have these in its internal rules (and the receipt usually has something in the lines of "(...) I have read and agree with the mobile device policy KX-47(B)" – Mindwin Jun 9 '17 at 16:52
  • My employer just cut all landlines and issued a mobile phone to every employee, it's just simpler and possibly cheaper that way. Some of us do need to travel and be reachable out of the office but others do not and have a mobile phone as a replacement for their old phone (and a perk as we are free to use our very generous data plan for other purposes). So your second paragraph isn't really true anymore. It seems to apply to the OP, though. – Relaxed Jun 10 '17 at 13:02
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Unless you are paid for it, your time off work is your time. Of course if you get paid for it, you do what you get paid for. And if you don't have a private phone, then being able to use your works phone privately saves you same money.

If you are not getting paid for it, and you have a private phone, it's fine to turn your works phone off. And in that case, it's better to leave it at work where it's safe and won't be forgotten. Personally, my employer has my private phone number. If there is an emergency, they can reach me. And they know the meaning of "emergency". And that's how it should be.

3

This is typically the double edged sword of having a company phone. The first time I received one, smart phones were not prevalent (and I did not have one) and it was initially exciting to get a free smart phone from the company. Then the after hours phone calls started..... Luckily I was hourly, so I could bill for each hour called.

Now that powerful smart phones ownership is very pedestrian; and, the strict app policy this is not a good thing. It is likely that the boss is expecting to contact you after work hours. Thus it will need to be on, charged and on your person during most hours of the day.

Leaving it off at your home, or secured at work will likely lead to counseling sessions. You could rightly point out that no policy exists that says that the phone needs to be answered after hours. Then, you can expect a written policy in short order. After all that is why the company is spending so much money for the phones.

Here in the US, there are many legal disputes as to how and if an on-call person should be compensated.

  • In Europe, one of the things that still works pretty well are laws protecting employees rights and privacy. We would not have "counselling sessions" for sure. – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 10 '17 at 20:12
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Ask your Boss.

  • check if there are regulations for being "on standby" in your company/pay scale agreement

  • consider how reasonable your boss is (with my bosses i never had the problem that they called me for anything else outside office hours but an absolute emergency)

  • In my experience this problem is rather with co-worker who might not be aware of your schedule. For these ones you could put them on a "no disturb list"

  • +1 ask and talk about your plan. No need for secrets and guessing here! – Michael Durrant Jun 11 '17 at 1:13
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It depends strongly on your contract and your boss' expectations. Go discuss it with them.

  • You have strict working hours, period. In that case you can leave the phone on your desk switched off and charging. Clearly state that all the calls will be job-related.
  • You have strict working hours with stand-by days In that case keep the phone with you in case of stand-by; otherwise you can leave it at your desk.
  • Your contract covers working hours and expects you can be rached 24/7. In that case you are obliged to have the phone with you and on all the time.

On the other hand, if you can be reached doesn't mean you are obliged to take the action ASAP. Sometimes, it means that you are ready for emergencies and if you are called you can respond: "I'll do that tomorrow." or "I'm sorry I'm outta office and busy, call me tomorrow at eight."

1

Today there are call outside job expectations, tomorrow they will worry you are not following up in a couple of minutes with work emails in your private time...(being sarcastic here)...Getting to business:

Given strong European laws protecting employees, I would talk with an Union attorney/conselling person about this.

I would undertand giving phones to a mobile force (e.g. a consulting/services) firm or to higher ups (upper management), and mainly to call them during business hours.

Giving you a phone, or even having your private mobile number should not equate for them to call as they please.

Usually businesses that need on call persorns do a roster schedule of one or two weeks per each employee, and rotate the work phone or voIP number between them. That means extra pay, a regular pay for being on call, and at least 3 hours pay and then hourly just for being called.

In the past, when I was the IT director of an ISP, I was in the unfortunate position of having a phone number known between 2 and 4 thousand people, and if I did not manage when to pick up a call I would have gone crazy.

I had several strategies for when called out from not picking up calls, ranging from "I was sleeping/walking/on the beach/making sex", and I was paid enough well to pick up the phone, however at the end of the day, it is your life and your personal time.

I also put it in silent mode when taking care of sensitive malfunctions where I needed my cool and thinking on my feet, and let my help desk crew pick up the calls.

People can be also rude, and think that giving you a phone, you are at their beck and call...I do remember a customer from whom I had never heard of ringing me 10 times in a Saturday night at 11PM, and still managing to complaint I obviously did not pick up the call. Clue in, having a phone does not means you have to pick it up to whoever decides to call you.

I usually establish some boundaries;

  • emails for not so urgent matters that will be read in a best effort basis;
  • google chat for out of band communications with a small subset of trusted colleagues;
  • SMSes for really urgent matters;
  • phone calls for bad situations.

When I was a consultant, I had a company issued phone for 5 years, and people were pretty considerate enough to not call after hours; as a perk, they also allowed us to make calls with a monthly ceiling 100-150 Euros.

As for "security" reasons, unless you are a spy, or work for a top-secret government agency, or are a member of parliament, I cannot really get as that will fly as an excuse for issuing employees a mobile phone; it seems more an excuse to circumvent current trends on EC about employees not being obliged to keep up with work email outside work.

As other comments also correctly point out, a locked down smart mobile phone with a company issued account can be pretty much abused as a tracking device especially while it is on and connected to the Internet in real time, and it will have your whereabouts in the history, and that also has to be correctly managed.

Again, ask the advice of your local union representative; I suspect that you can pretty much say no to carry a company issued mobile phone outside work hours.

Having said that, there are probably countries where you will have more legal backing for this; if in Germany, I do strongly stress talking with a union; in southern countries few will bat a lid.

  • What's a “call plafond”? – JDługosz Jun 11 '17 at 19:04
  • a ceiling/maximum amount. I changed the wording, as I am not quite sure it translates to english. – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 11 '17 at 19:10
  • Ok, 'cause “an ornately decorated ceiling. a painting or decoration on a ceiling” doesn't make sense. I guess your use comes from “ceiling” in a general sense. – JDługosz Jun 11 '17 at 19:17
  • @JDługosz we use plafond for spending ceiling in my mother tongue, mainly in the telecom industry (not only) – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 13 '17 at 7:07
  • Which language is that? I see the word plafond is French. As an import in English it’s only used for architecture. In American English I would use “cap” as a direct substitute, or “quota” in this kind of use (common in IT). – JDługosz Jun 13 '17 at 10:25
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I would advice not overthinking this.

There is at face value no reason to familiarize yourselves with law, the deeper recesses of your contract, the unions, HR, etc. I think you are overthinking the consequences, but in any case (I might be wrong) here are 3 paths I would consider.

Either... ask your boss "Hi Mr Boss, is there anything wrong with me leaving the company phone at work when I leave? Am I breaking some unwritten rules or expectations?"

...or just leave it there and handle eventual fallout with an (humbly presented) argument of no harm intended.

...or just carry it home with you and keep with your work stuff, and when and if the situation you are worried about should happen - then start leaving it at work. (This is probably what I would have ended up doing)

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