Mobile phones are fantastic. They have revolutionised how we communicate, and how we live. It can help you find your way, it can help you find information. It can take a photo, or a video. You can watch films, or your favourite shows. You can stream, you can play games, you can listen to music. You can even make phone calls.

This last one might be a sore point, but a lot of people also use them for work.

There are a number of reasons (5, in fact) why this isn’t such a good idea.

1) Personal Data

Remember, if you are using your personal mobile phone, then you are giving away your personal data. That phone number is your own property, and the device is something you will have on you, pretty much all the time.

For employers, encouraging employees to use their own mobiles is not a good idea. Employers have an obligation to employees to provide a safe working environment. The Information Commissioner’s Office has guidance suggesting that employers underestimate the risks regarding employees using personal device for their job. It opens the door for phone calls through the night from disgruntled customers (which does happen), or for unwanted advances or inappropriate messages from customers (which also does happen).

It is unfair to put an employee under this much stress, and might be a contributing factor in someone being harmed, or stalked.

Bear in mind that this works the other way too. It means that employees may have data on a personal device which contravenes either your company policies regarding Data Protection, or UK Legislation.

2) Work-Life Balance

It is very important to have some time away from work – to “switch off”. None of us work at our best when we are stressed and tired, and working continuously will have serious detrimental effects. These effects can be both physical (tiredness, more days of sick), and mental (irritability, inability to concentrate).

Using your mobile for work can contribute to this. If you are always slightly on edge whenever a call, text or message comes in, because it might be a paying customer, then you will always be slightly on edge. Jumping every time your phone goes will not help you relax in the evenings or over the weekend

3) Scammers

As your phone number is more public, so it is more likely to be seen. It’s the same with any data. As it is more public, so it is more likely to be picked up by scammers. Keeping things private mitigates the risk of it being seen by someone you don’t want it to be seen by. Making things public increases this risk. As a last resort, you may need to change your phone or number. Not ideal for anyone, and could mean losing customer information if the phone’s been used for work, and personal information for your own use.

4) Risk

Most companies have a strategy in place for identifying and mitigating Risk. Basically, employees using their own mobiles is another thing that can go wrong. The risks incurred have to analysed and quantified. An Action Plan has to be put in place, and acted on should things go wrong. It is a safer and more manageable solution to simply remove the risk if possible.

5) Distinction Between Professional and Personal Calls

Most of us have a professional persona that we put on at work, and take off when we get home. This applies to our speech patterns, the language we use, how we answer the phone. You answer the phone very differently to friends and relatives than you do to customers. You us a different tone of voice, and different language. If you are constantly mentally preparing, constantly adopting your ‘work persona’, every time your phone goes, then you are mixing work life and home life. If your phone rings and it’s from an unknown number, then you have to be ‘on your best behaviour’, in case it’s a customer.

The solution for the five potential problem areas given above is simple. To move employees away from using their personal mobiles. If you have a VoIP service in place, then you can move employees to a softphone app.

This is an app which downloads onto a mobile phone, and is used solely for work purposes. It can be switched off, in which case the ‘work phone’ is off. It comes under the company-wide VoIP system, so is included within the correct call flows, menus etc. The employee dials out showing the company number, not their own. If enabled, calls can be recorded for future reference. Calls are sent to an appropriate colleague or to voicemail if not answered.

It removes the risks involved with employees using their own device. Personal data is not being shared. The softphone app can be switched off in the evenings and at weekends, restoring the work-life balance. It means the employee’s personal data is not being shared through work activities.

The risks associated don’t now have to form part of the employer’s planning. What employees do in their own time with their own equipment is their own concern, not the company’s. The distinction between personal and private calls is clear. Calls coming in over the app are for work, and calls coming in to the mobile are personal.

So you can remove all the problems with one solution.

See more on possible Hosted VoIP services

See more on softphone apps for smartphones

If you’d value a discussion on any points, just get in touch.

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