Updated: Aug 25
Today’s employees are frequently asked to use their own mobile phones for work. 87% of companies expect their employees to use their personal devices for work purposes and that number is expected to increase. Increasingly, not using your own phone for work seems odd. Using your personal cell phone for work purposes can benefit you in some ways, while it may present challenges in others. Let’s look at a few pros and cons of using your personal cell phone for work.
Pros of Using a Personal Cell Phone at Work
Many cell phone users have personal preferences about the brand, model and operating system of the devices they use. When you use your personal phone for work, you have full control over these preferences, and you can continue to use a device that you enjoy and are familiar with. You can get your work done easier when you’re familiar with the device.
You might find that using your personal phone for work is the simpler option. When your personal phone and work phone are the same, you don't have to worry about remembering to take a second device to and from work, and you are free from worry about confusing one for the other. Additionally, there is no concern about being responsible for property that isn't yours, so you can handle the device as you please.
Freedom to Upgrade
You may decide that newer or just different model of phone is better for you. Because you are providing your own work phone, you are free to change devices, which opens up the potential for you to have access to the latest cell phone technologies. Using faster and more-capable devices can help you get your work done more efficiently. No frustration that comes from using an ancient company-provided phone.
Cons of Using a Personal Phone for Work
Using a personal phone for work isn't ideal for everyone. Some may face challenges involving the following issues:
You may not be reimbursed for your phone expenses.
Federal law does not require organizations to reimburse employees for business-related calls, texts, internet browsing, etc. that take place on their personal cell phones. Pennsylvania does not require reimbursement for phone expenses although some states do have these laws on the books. If your employer agrees to provide expense reimbursements via an employment policy, the payment must be made within 60 days of the employee’s valid claim submission. Some workers may be able to deduct work-related expenses, including for their cell phone, from their state income tax. How to deduct work expenses from your state taxes
Spam calls and spam texts increase.
Unsolicited phone calls drive everyone crazy. This rise in spam phone calls and even spam texts correlates with access to personal contact information. And more businesses are willing to pay for access to this information. Using your personal phone number as a business phone number just opens you up to receive unsolicited sales calls.
When you use your personal phone for work, you also invite work into your personal life. Although maintaining communication is a good workplace practice, it is equally important for your mental health and well-being that you establish a boundary between your professional and personal lives. Try to discourage work-related communication after a certain hour in order to promote work-life balance.
If your employer requires that you install security applications on your personal cell phone, they may have access to sensitive personal information such as photos, emails, and search history. In some cases, they may be able to track your movements or monitor how you use the phone on your own time. If this is a cause of concern, you could try setting up a separate business-related account on the phone, which would separate the work and personal identities associated with it.
If you’re using your own phone to call your employer’s customers and co-workers, those calls may not stop when you change jobs. How will you handle those calls? Ignore them? Will you play answering service for your former employer for months after you leave? If you use your device to access company files, you may retain that data on your phone. Upon departure, your company may demand access to your phone to wipe confidential company data from your phone, and sometimes wipe personal data as well. If you refuse to cooperate, your employer may take the position that you’ve stolen its confidential information, especially if you leave to take a job with a competitor. This can lead to inconvenience and invasion of your privacy at a minimum. At the worst, you may need to retain an attorney to work out the details concerning access to your phone and what can be removed.
Think Before you Say “Yes”
Before you agree to use your personal phone for work, you should ask your employer some questions. Does your employer have a “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) policy? If so, you should read it. Will your employer reimburse you for costs relating to your phone? Some employers pay a flat reimbursement rate per month. Try and negotiate that up front. Ask your employer for communication apps so that you do not have to give your personal number out to customers and others. Be very careful about using your device to access confidential company information.