In the September 10, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a reader asks whether a smartphone is a credential.

Question

smartphoneThese days it seems so many companies expect you to use your personal smartphone for company business. I do not have a smartphone and worry it will impact my job search.

I have a basic flip phone for a variety of reasons, including what was basically a smartphone addiction that impacted both my mental and physical (neck strain) health. I am so much happier now with the simplicity of a basic phone, but worry potential employers will think I’m a Luddite. I’m not. I’m used to working in front of a computer all day, but I really don’t want to buy a personal smartphone for work, nor do I feel I should be required to do so. I am not expected to bring my own personal computer or desk chair to work. Why should I use a personal phone for my professional life, especially one where I’m in an office all day?

Should I disclose this to potential employers, and if so how?

Nick’s Reply

This is a bit thorny because we’re on the tail end of our society transitioning into a highly connected state. Most people want to be connected, so employers naturally assume you will be, too.

Is a smartphone part of the job?

It’s almost an unwritten point in every job description that you will be available via your mobile device, and it’s probably assumed you’ve got a smartphone. Many companies have mobile apps not just for their customers, but for their employees, so they can conduct business more efficiently.

Don’t use company technology to store personal information. Tip: If the laptop and phone belong to the company, so does what’s stored on them. One of my HR friends tells me her IT department cannot selectively return e-mail or phone data that belongs to an employee.

From Parting Company: How to leave your job, p. 71

Some employers provide “work phones” to employees that really need them. Others provide a stipend that pays for your personal smartphone service since you’re expected to use it for work. (Keep in mind that if you accept a company phone for work use, everything stored on it is company property, and that your personal phone’s privacy could be compromised if you agree to use it for company business.)

So a smartphone is sometimes a necessity at work.

If your job description does not include an explicit requirement that you have your own smartphone, is it reasonable for fair for your employer to expect that it is implied?

Is the job 24X7?

Now we run headlong into a far bigger issue: What part of your time and attention does your employer have a right to, and what parts are they paying you for? Is it just the eight or so hours you’re bound to your office? Or does it include evenings and weekends across time zones if your company is global? Do you have to be available to talk to customers and respond to your boss 24X7?

Is it reasonable or fair that your employer require you to be available at any time, even after regular work hours?

Just a few decades ago the first widely-used mobile communication device was a beeper. It was a purely one-way device with a tiny display, clipped to your belt, on which you’d receive a phone number, and a beep to alert you. Your job was to respond by calling the number on a landline. It’s how you could be reached anywhere at any time. Beepers became very popular with doctors, who had to be available for life and death matters, and with IT technicians, whose employers’ contracts with customers guaranteed almost instant technical support even in the middle of the night.

With the advent of beepers, IT technicians starting a new job were shocked to learn they were expected to wear one at all times. This led to “beeper disclosures” on job descriptions so you’d know what you were getting into when you took such a job. I know many IT workers who wouldn’t even consider “beeper jobs.”

Make your own rules

So let’s go back to our two questions: Should a job description have to disclose that you’re required to have a smartphone, and that you’re expected to conduct business at any time of day?

An HR friend of mine says, “Are you kidding? If you don’t have a smartphone, how smart can you be?” On the other hand, a highly paid financial consultant I know will receive texts and e-mails from her boss on weekends, but will not respond to them until Monday morning. Another friend relishes being able to work any time, anywhere. So, where does this leave you?

I think you have to establish rules for yourself when you apply for jobs, but that doesn’t mean you must lead with a disclosure about your flip phone.

  • What technology of your own will you contribute to your job?
  • At what times will you be available to your employer?
  • How and when will you disclose your rules?

When to speak up

During the interview process, I wouldn’t disclose anything about your type of phone unless you’re told it’s a condition of employment. Let them assume what they want. To raise the issue is to admit you don’t want to work evenings and weekends — and that’s the real question. The job description either does or does not specify that you must have a smartphone or be available evenings and weekends. You must decide what’s acceptable.

Unless the job requires a smartphone to do your job during regular work hours, the kind of phone you have is no one’s business. However, an employer is free to expect you to have your own smartphone and to be available at all hours — but then I think it’s obligated to disclose this before hiring you.

And that’s why it may be prudent for you to raise these questions if the employer does not bring bring it up first, but I would wait until you have an offer in hand. Bringing it up too early could be construed as a signal that you’re a clock-watcher, when smartphones are not even an issue for the company. Don’t jeopardize a job opportunity over a non-issue.

Meanwhile, you need to look for signals during the hiring process about what the norms are at that company — and decide whether that company is for you.

How to take a stand

If the matter comes up, and you feel strongly about sticking with a flip phone, let people know you use your phone only to talk and text — and only during business hours. “Do you provide smartphones to employees who need them for their jobs?”

This could get an interviewer upset with you, but so could telling them you clock out at quitting time until the next day. That’s a lifestyle choice! It’s something to resolve before you accept a job.

For what it’s worth, I have a smartphone but I decide how I use it. I’ve trained both friends and people I work with not to expect instant responses. My time is too precious to spend it looking at a screen and being interrupted all day long!

What are your smartphone and work-hours policies? Are you a “Luddite” that doesn’t have a smartphone? Does your employer expect you to use your own mobile device, or does it provide a company-owned device?

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50 Comments
  1. For the record, I’m probably older than you are. And yes, I have a smart phone. Carefully selected to be
    cost-effectively positioned behind the new product introduction wave.

    I wouldn’t say a thing. You have a mobile phone, if they ask, period. Should the inquire, say “it’s a flip-phone, which I chose because of robustness. I find the added apps and text an unwanted intrusion, and I can get at most of that on MY timetable, on my laptop.
    But you can always reach me if there is an after-hours need…here’s my cell number…”

    This should not be an issue. Don’t make it one. And color me almost 75, and just started a new job…

  2. I do have a smartphone but have said something like “I have been told that legally, if I choose to use my personal phone for business, it can be subpoenaed if a legal case concerning my employer comes up and I have sensitive company information on my phone. Since it’s my property and not the company’s, I’ve chosen not to use it for business.”
    It’s never come up in an interview, but it’s been spoken of with management and colleagues. No one had ever taken it badly, because it reminds them they too could have their own smartphones confiscated for the same reason (and they probably don’t want to lose all those photos of their kids, etc.)

    • @Annika: I only hinted at the liability issue with that excerpt from “Parting Company: How to leave your job.” Thanks for putting a stronger focus on this issue!

  3. Most flip-phones allow for emails nowadays anyway, thanks to IMAP. e.g. https://deviceguides.vodafone.co.uk/doro/6520-proprietary-os/messaging/set-up-your-phone-for-imap-email/

    With the advantage over smartphones of longer battery life, if they only want to reach you by text/email (and your okay with that) then only IT needs to know(to authenticate your device) and possibly the phone seller.

    Alternatively you could set up an out of hours email, that goes to your flip phone, though if on-call you probably want a laptop or tablet in the car because the screens are so tiny and hard to type more than basic replies on.

  4. I work from home. My employer only provides a laptop and monitor. I provide everything else at my cost without reimbursement.

    The employer offered me a company cell phone, with only a 30-minute call-allowance monthly. I declined once I realized that the device would tether me to the job, even during off hours and vacations. It is all about setting boundaries and expectations based on the demands of the job.

  5. I remember the old Corona commercial where a guy, on a beach, has his pager go off… and he tosses it into the ocean.

    :)

    If you’ll tolerate the snark… companies squeeze on pay, squeeze on benefits, and expect me to be on call 24/7 and then wonder why people get snarky and have no loyalty?

    A short anecdote, related to availability.

    I was looking for work and got a call from an HR department on Thursday wanting me to come in Friday or Monday for an interview. I had obligations so I asked if I could come in Tuesday. Not Tuesday four weeks from then, but literally one day later than their requested Monday. I knew from their eyes that I didn’t get it when I was there.

    Confused, I tried to get ahold of someone I knew there (a VP). He sent me an email at eight-something saying “What’s your phone number?” I sent it and said “I look forward to talking with you tomorrow; I’m getting the kids to bed now.”

    For over a month he then ghosted me. No reply to emails, no return calls. I FINALLY got him and he said he was just leaving work then (!) and had wanted to call me right then… and was put off by the fact that I was not available.

    Which, IMHO, tells me a dodged a bullet. A man who is at work for, presumably, 12 hours a day and who who does more work than that is – clearly – a driven man who drives everyone else.

    NO. THANK. YOU.

  6. You could bring up all the security issues in using your own devices that IT cannot monitor very well. From your point of view, as noted, the instant you let any company information onto your own device, your device is treated just like any other company property in case of lawsuits, etc.

    I used to work in field service, so I was on a variable schedule and had a couple of weeks each year when I was tasked with taking initial calls after hours. But, I tracked every minute I did company work and all that went on my time sheet, with a 4 hour minimum day, meaning, if I even got only one business phone call on a Saturday, I put 4 hours on my time sheet. And that was all in the employment agreement going in, because I had been an avid reader of AtH and knew to research a career thoroughly before I started.

    I also know from personal experience that many companies will try to call people “salary” to avoid OT, when the person’s job duties and responsibilities put them in the hourly category, that is, non-exempt. You gotta educate yourself on the rules and ask the right questions. Timing the questions is important, as is described in many places in this blog – you don’t want to give them excuses for dropping you before you have convinced them that you will make them rich. But the only way to win the employment game is to recognize your own value and find companies that are smart enough to want what you have to offer.

    Many of my colleagues used their own devices for work. I never did. I always had them give me a phone and a laptop. On the other hand, I used my own airline credit card for all of my travel expenses, when I could, because I wanted to get and keep the points.

    • @Michael: Most people are understandably so relieved and excited to get a job offer that they jump the gun and accept it — only to realize later that the offer is the beginning of negotiations, not the end. Being categorized exempt is a badge of honor to some; it can actually be a disadvantage, as you pointed out.

      Please, folks: THINK before you say yes. Think ahead and get the best deal you can. The $$ is just one part of a job offer.

  7. There’s another issue besides availability: IT/IT policies (and, as you mentioned, protection of private data also comes into play).

    I do have a smartphone but, because of various circumstances, I’m not reachable on it much of the time (it’s available when I want/need to use it). I consider it a personal device and not for use with any employment. I have had a job that supplied a company phone in the past; I used that phone for work-related things (but again, not reachable anywhere close to 24-7). However, in the past few years, I’ve had to do at least a limited amount of stuff with my personal phone for most jobs I’ve had because of IT policies (which really, really bothers me).

    Most companies have turned on 2FA (two factor authentication) for many applications which requires one or more of:

    – receiving a text with a code you have to enter at login
    – grabbing a code off of an app that’s on your phone that’s been seeded with a random generator base recognized by your app
    – sometimes you can download some codes and avoid the phone, but more and more often you have to set up one of the above methods before it lets you do that so you still have to use the personal phone initially

    In addition, many VPN solutions are now requiring an app seeded with a random generator base. In the past many companies used either a physical fob or an app on your desktop/laptop to generate these codes, but this is no longer the case. Vendors selling these solutions just assume everyone wants to use their smartphone so they no longer assign resources for building computer apps. This one took me by surprise when I encountered it because I’ve always used either a fob (not recently) or an app on my laptop until this year.

    Further, in order to use the apps that generate codes for 2FA and VPNs, you often need not just a smartphone but a new smartphone – these apps tend to require the latest OS version, or maybe 1-2 before it. So it’s not enough to have a working smartphone, it can’t be more than 1-2 years old (sometimes less).

  8. > “Do you provide smartphones to employees who need them for their jobs?”

    I particularly like this question because it doesn’t necessarily say anything about your personal property. There are plenty of reasons why an employee might be concerned with having separate devices, including those listed in previous comments, but one I haven’t seen yet is company IT policy. I used to work for a company where I had my work email set up on my personal device. It wasn’t a big deal because I could and did easily ignore it. But one day, IT, on orders from management, rolled out a new server back end that required devices to accept policy before they could connect. That policy enabled remote lock and remote wipe. I never bothered to reconnect, and the funny part is it really didn’t affect my job after that point.

    Either way, if you have important personal information on your device, my advice is to find a good backup solution for yourself, whether it’s the whole device or just the important bits. Most people would do well to enable automatic uploads in Google Photos. Even if your employer doesn’t remote wipe, or your phone doesn’t get subpoenad, phones get lost, broken, and stolen ALL the time, and that’s not the time that you want to realize that’s the only place you have your baby pictures.

    • @Ed: Oh, that would be lovely. Your employer downloads code to your personal phone that enables it to wipe the memory!

  9. If the company issues a smartphone, and not given specific hours off the clock it must be available to be used, If there is a secure way of storing and charging it, like all other company property, store it on the company premises at the end of the workday

    • @Eddie: You win the prize! Store it at work when you go home!

  10. LOL, my 78-year-old mother is my current worst “why didn’t you respond now” offender.

    Used to work for a CEO who would text at 10:30pm Saturday and then call at 7:30am Sunday to holler about why I hadn’t already responded. She paid well, which helped me to ignore the effects of the job on my personal life. Finally figured out my priorities and left, definitely much happier without her!

  11. If it’s really important, why not just get an inexpensive, pre-paid burner smart phone? Best Buy has them — https://www.bestbuy.com/site/promo/tracfone-airtime.

    For myself, I have a rugged flip-phone because I have a problem with my right hand and I knew I would be dropping a smart phone all the time. (Why are those things still made of glass instead of high-impact plastic?!)

    Equally significant, I just didn’t want to have the internet with me all the time. I want to be free of it … often! I also didn’t want to be paying $50-ish a month for a phone data plan.

    Nick – your HR friend is being kind of snarky there! But, truth be told, when a friend pointed out to me that it was dumb not to know how to use a smart phone, I realized she was right and I got a Samsung tablet. My tablet does everything a smart phone does except calling and texting. (And I believe there are apps for that.) What do I love about my tablet? It’s just a bigger version of an Android phone so I know the lingo and am not totally out of touch. Plus it’s bigger, which is better for me. I am much less likely to drop it. And the cost was just the $100-ish for the tablet, connecting to wireless. Literally, it costs me nothing per month. (My flip-phone costs me about $300 a year for calls and texts and not-so-great pictures. But I have a stand-alone camera and a small mp3 player – by choice. I don’t want to pay for a smart phone to mostly use it as a camera or music-player.)

    So, OP, you have options. Including – even if you do have a smart phone – what Annika DeGroot so wisely said above: “Since it’s my property and not the company’s, I’ve chosen not to use it for business.”

    • As Ms DeGroot said: “Since it’s my property and not the company’s, I’ve chosen not to use it for business.”

      I’ve had occasions where an employer insisted on me installing proprietary apps on my smart phone or had to install 3rd-party communications apps which I grudgingly did. In one case, the terms gave the employer access to everything on my phone (do I trust them to only access the business-related information that might be saved on my phone by their app?). In another case, the app turned out to have privacy and security vulnerabilities that could have given //anybody// access to my phone. Never again. If an employer needs me to have 24-hour access, they’ll have my phone number, home email address (heck, require me to check in on those weekends if something is going on that might need my attention), but they won’t have access to my personal smart phone—even if they decide to subsidize the monthly bill. (Which some companies have offered but have made the process of filling out the expense reports so onerous — possibly by design — that many co-workers didn’t take them up on it.) My preference would be for them to supply a phone of come up with a list of inexpensive flip phones that I can pick up at Best Buy or Walmart. Like the ones I used to use for emergency contact while cycling—if one of those fell out of my jersey and disintegrated on the pavement, it only cost $19.95 to get another.

    • @Patrice: Great idea and $$ savings! Keep the flip phone for calls and texts, and get a $100 tablet for apps/web, use it only in wifi mode when you’re near a network node! The only reason tablets are so cheap is that not as many people buy/want them as they do smartphones.

  12. Nick made some interesting points, but as we know he’s not a techie — so here’s a techie to give some feedback.

    As many others have said, sometimes a smartphone is needed for second/multi-factor authentication. It could be a VPN, or a way to gain privileged access. Usually this is now via an app like Okta, Trustwave, Symantec, etc. but sometimes it’s via an older method like SMS which thankfully is being phased out.

    If that’s the case, an older phone like your flip-phone won’t work. But the company should still be willing to provide a device in that case. If they won’t, that should be highly indicative of how as a company they operate. For even a small-sized company, a roughly $100/mo expense isn’t even a line item in a budget. If they’re going to cheap out that much, where else are they being cheap on?

    If they want you to check emails or similar 24/7, it also speaks volumes about how they’re going to run you. Overworked, underpaid, and you probably won’t ever have a proper vacation. They may also be expecting you to be on-call for long periods, so a company-paid device would be best.

    As has also been said before, there might be liability reasons for connecting a personal device to the company network. The first solution doesn’t really offer much liability, but hooking up a device for email is much more. That’s why a company-owned device would be best to mitigate that.

    • @David: Three cheers for that – I’m not a techie. Thanks for explaining the importance of a smartphone for secure remote access to company resources. And thanks for emphasizing that the cost of that smartphone is still the company’s problem.

    • “If they want you to check emails or similar 24/7, it also speaks volumes about how they’re going to run you. Overworked, underpaid, and you probably won’t ever have a proper vacation.”

      At one former employer, management started insisting that one of our database admins lug a company satellite phone with him and call in each day during his fishing trips to N. Canada. (They’re *his* former employer as well.)

  13. Today, they expect you to have a smart phone. Tomorrow, they’ll expect you to have an RFID implant:

    https://tinyurl.com/yae8vjjq

    You’ve gotta draw the line somewhere, and I think Nick’s advice about waiting to bring it up until after you have a signed offer letter in-hand is excellent. If a company expects an employee to carry a smart phone, then they ought to provide one and pay for the service. For all the reasons stated above, using personal property to conduct business activities raises all sorts of red flags, whether it’s a phone, a computer, a car, or a home.

    I can still recall an uncomfortable conversation from decades ago when I was denied a company credit card for business expenses. I then attempted to expense the annual fee on my personal credit card because my employer expected me to regularly front out-of-pocket, business-related travel costs. The CFO told me bluntly: “We don’t do that here.” I responded: “Well, if the company needed a revolving credit line, it should’ve hired a bank, not a [my title at the time].” Eventually, they relented and reimbursed me for the fee, but not before cautioning me to keep quiet about it, lest other employees find out about the extra $50 I was getting per year.

    • @Garp: “Keep this to yourself and let your co-workers continue to get screwed, but you’re one of us now, eh? Mum’s the word!”

      I love your line about the bank!

    • Years and years ago, the company I was working for was sending engineers out to AZ to support the testing of some equipment being developed for the DoD. No company credit cards… engineers were supposed to charge everything — air fare, housing, meals — on their personal credit cards while they were there for — in some cases for several months — and wait to get reimbursed after they returned home. Reimbursement was taking several months to process. The company almost had a revolt on their hands after a large number of the engineers involved in the testing threatened to quit if they were going to have to wait months and months to be reimbursed after each trip out to the test site. I know a lot of their spouses were hopping mad about the practice. Imagine trying to keep the family budget straight if businesses you were writing checks to didn’t cash them for several months.

      • Yeah, at that point they’re just giving the company an interest free loan. Not to mention the fact that some people might not be able to put $$,$$$ on their personal credit cards.

        • Had an argument with a CFO because the company wanted younger employees (read: not highly paid) to travel, but didn’t want to front the travel expenses. Tried explaining that not everyone has a large enough limit on their cards. “Do we really want someone working here who can’t afford a larger credit line?” Uhhhhh, yes. Yes we do. Pony up.

  14. From a secretary/administrative assistant: I’ve worked for a large corporation that provided a business mobile phone and reimbursed me for expenses. Another large corporation in my past eliminated office voice mail on desktop phones but said it is OK to use a personal device. To me it is another example of pushing operating expenses on to employees. What kind of corporation has assistants (not to mention high level people) without voicemail? I refuse to use a device I am funding to conduct business as I see it as a labor issue. When asked to send a text I have politely declined and said I will when the company provides the phone and pays the bill. I do not have nor do I want a smart phone; a flip phone mobile is sufficient for my personal needs.

    • @Karen: The offloading of corporate expenses to employees is a shocking, embarrassing practice. Whether the company enjoys the “float” of using your credit card, or the free benefit of a credit “subscription” (revolving account), the board of directors (and the IRS) should view this as a form of income to the corp that’s taxable and that affects the true bottom line.

  15. In medicine, the hospitals now let the doctors access the electronic medical record (EMR) from home.

    For “convenience”

    What it really means, is the hospitals force the doctors to work from home. More and more doctors, saddled with clumsy EMR’s that are designed to maximize billing, find themselves spending 8 hours seeing patients, and another eight hours entering data inthe EMR.

    So…….the hospitals kindly created at-home access to the EMR.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/06/08/opinion/sunday/hospitals-doctors-nurses-burnout.html

  16. I work for a large company and a company phone is provided. Personal devices can be used provided it passes IT security scrutiny. It makes sense to me to keep personal and business devices separate (yes, I carry 2 cell phones). It has been my experience to not use personal devices for business. If a company wants you to carry/have a cell phone for work, then they need to provide a business cell phone.

  17. One very important thing to note if you use your personal cell phone for work. In the event of a legal investigation your entire phone could become discoverable. That is both personal and business content. For that reason I only use it for business where nothing remains on my phone. Typically this means accessing e-mail via company Citrix server.

    • @Kevin: BINGO. That’s reason #1 not to use your personal cell phone for company biz.

  18. I have not had “phone issues” come up in interviews that I can recall (~3 years since I have been on the hunt).

    The only thing I can recall is maybe needing to be available if I was not at my desk, but was needed. But I do not remember having to give any kind of specs on my personal phone.

    As with anything else, if there are expectations that come with the job (dress code, appearance, automobile) they should be addressed.

    As for your choice in personal phones, it needs as much explanation as you choose to give. No more. I drive cars until the wheels fall off. Since it does not impact my work (I am not customer-facing), it should not be an issue.

    In my current role, I am on a rotating on-call shift. I can use a company phone. If I want to drive 2 hours each way to pick up, then drop off. I much prefer to use my phone and save the mikes.

  19. I have a smartphone for my personal life and a flip phone for my job and a personal email and a professional email that I don’t mix up. I clock in and clock out at the times I negotiated, and I don’t read or answer work emails outside of work hours. I only answer work phone calls on my work phone, which I otherwise completely ignore outside of my shift.
    I do this because I treasure my personal life and I’ve found that if I don’t make my boundaries clear, employers will assume there are no boundaries, they will get as much free overtime as possible and give nothing in return. If they want access to me 24/7, they have to pay for it, and when it costs money they don’t want it anymore.
    My previous job contractually didn’t specify any schedule, we could choose our work hours, but not really. Our boss wanted us to be physically present at the office and to keep what amounted to a regular job schedule, and he didn’t like remote work. On the other hand, when it was time to do overtime, it was very important that we were flexible, you see. And of course, whenever someone is given the option to “choose” their schedule freely, there’s the /implication/ that you still have to work as many hours as possible because you don’t want to be seen as a slacker, do you? Whenever there’s a blurry boundary, it’s going to be interpreted in the employer’s favor, so I better make my boundaries clear and save myself the headache.

    • @Pentalis: “If they want access to me 24/7, they have to pay for it, and when it costs money they don’t want it anymore.”

      It really is that simple. Wish someone would add up all the costs employers shunt over to employees who don’t push back.

  20. Interesting that no one has mentioned company (or in my case, university) policy that employees may not use any university-owned equipment for personal use. But I’m expected to be reachable by my personal cell and to front travel expenses on my credit card (and you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve seen the inner guts of the university or NGO travel reimbursement process. Three months? Bwahahah.) In any case, this was a great question and I appreciate the responses. I too am moving to a burner phone for personal use, and if / when I take a job or restart my consulting, will insist on a company expensed phone or tablet. As a good friend says, some people live to work. I work to live.

  21. One of my standard interview questions is three words, “Android or Apple?”

    This is not a hard pass/fail question but not having a ubiquitous smartphone means you are an outlier and probably not a good fit.

    To be clear, I do not expect people to use their personal smartphones for work. Our company provides them with requisite security features to employees who need them. I also do not expect employees to check email or perform other work related tasks at home. But not having a smartphone in 2019???

    • I am seriously considering getting rid of my smartphone. However, up until last year, my answer to “Apple or Android” was Windows 10 Mobile. I don’t think I would have been a good fit.

    • @John Phillips: I think the point is, “not having a personal smartphone to be used for your employer’s business.”

      But putting that aside, I know lots of people with flip phones. They do just fine.

  22. My employers have been quick to provide a company paid Smartphone with the intent of 24/7 365 availability. I always set personal boundaries to limit off hour use but it’s a challenge once you start answering calls or emails beyond the boundaries you set for yourself. A couple of things to consider:

    If the company wants to provide a phone, decide if you’re going to port your personal number or use the company provided number. As pointed out, a company sponsored phone requires you to submit all your personal information if requested. Technology allows employers to wipe the phone clean and reset at anytime for any reason. If you port your number to a company sponsored phone, the company must grant permission to port the number back once you terminate employment. That is why some of my colleagues keep their private phone separate.

    If you’re conducting business in multiple time zones then having a separate phone is convenient since you won’t be bothered on your private phone in off hours.

    Lastly, there is a trend to go after employers who allow their employees to text, talk and drive. So be careful. Causing an accident while using your phone or a company’s phone could become a legal nightmare.

    • @Paul:

      “If you port your number to a company sponsored phone, the company must grant permission to port the number back once you terminate employment. That is why some of my colleagues keep their private phone separate.”

      Yah, imagine that battle if the parting isn’t a sweet one — getting your number back in how much time??

  23. If a smartphone is “needed” so that you can be available after hours, you don’t really need one. You can respond to calls and texts with a flip phone, and go off to your PC to get any email.

    One advantage of not having one. I saw lots of people at their desks faces into their smartphones, doing Facebook and not work. You can’t do that with a flip phone.
    And I had a boss who was know for calling at night before there were smartphones. Good boss in every other way.

  24. I’ll soon be leaving a job where I was constantly asked why I did not have Outlook company email app on my phone. I gave a vague and different answer each time. Only one of the reasons that I will be skipping out the door in less than two weeks with a huge grin on my face.

  25. I have an even thornier problem: I don’t have a car. Here in Chicago, no one bats an eye when you say that; you don’t need one here. But I’m looking to move to a Southern city next year (going back to my home state–woo-hoo!), and I don’t plan on buying a car first. I haven’t had a car in a decade now, and I’m in no hurry to get back on that cash-hemmorhage train. I have so much more financial freedom without one. It was difficult to get used to, but I’m extremely self-reliant and can get around just fine, especially in this era of Uber. The city I’ll be moving to has a surprisingly good bus system, and I will carefully choose my home and work locations to take full advantage (I may even be able to walk to my job). It’s no big deal at all. But man, mention you have no car to someone who doesn’t live in a huge metro area like Chicago and watch their face!! I will have to remind myself to be careful in interviews about discussing anything about being car-free. I don’t want a potential employer to think it would be a handicap.

    • Quick-judging an employee over whether they have a car or a smartphone is such a backward attitude; there are dozens of valid reasons not to have either (or both) and all the employer has to do is ask.

      Like, really, become a handicap? All you have to do is to commute and you already got that covered; if that’s not enough then what do they expect you to do with your car and your gasoline?

    • It is, in fact, illegal for a company to discriminate you based on transportation. I agree that you shouldn’t bring it up (because being illegal hasn’t stopped many people), but please do know that they only legal question to ask around that is, “Do you have reliable transportation?” Your right to not have a vehicle is protected. (I don’t think the same is true for phones, but agree that it’s an over-reach, too.)

    • @Chicago – I’d love to hear how it goes! Will you please post after you settle in? I have to imagine it is indeed possible to do just fine without a car in most metro areas — and I’d love to hear your story! Best to you in your new city and job!

  26. In my company, smart phones are issued to the sales and marketing teams. Some of the IT people may get company smart phones when they are on 24/7 customer support.

    I do not have a company smart phone, nor was it offered to me. However, by my choice, I installed the company Outlook and Slack apps on my personal smart phone in case that I’m needed for something. It has come in handy to communicate quickly with my team or respond to a customer request.

    I am not compensated for this convenience, but I see it as a way of staying connected to the growth of the company. On my company business card, I do not list my personal smart phone number.

  27. I do not have a smartphone nor a flip phone. I’m not a Luddite, as I use the PC more often for the bigger monitor space.

    One company had a strict policy of not using the cellphones in a manufacturing environment where a lot of heavy-duty machines are placed throughout the factory. For that reason, I never bothered to purchase a cell phone, due to potential liability in violation of safety protocol (OSHA & company policies).

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