Home > Contemplations > 2 Modern Necessities You Shouldn’t Allow Your Employer To Control

2 Modern Necessities You Shouldn’t Allow Your Employer To Control


Lumbergh talking to Bobs - Office Space

When we get a job these days our employers often offers us certain perks and privileges that come with our job. They might offer/give you a transit pass, a cell phone with service, a company car, a corporate credit card, and a laptop among other things. Of course, you’ll likely get a company email address within the first few minutes you start your job. All of those things sound great, right? They most certainly are however, two of them are things that you should never link to your personal life and let your employer control.

1. Your EmailSketched Mailbox with @ email MC900341788 via Microsoft Office

The first of the two things is the email account. No, I’m not advocating telling your employer you’d rather not use the work email address they’ve assigned to you, that would be silly. What I am saying is that you have to watch what you use that work email address for. I recommend business communication that has to do with your employer and your job from your work email account only and I have a very good reason for it:

A little while ago I had a friend who used his work email for anything and everything in his life. When he made a personal contact at a networking event or when he did private consulting he used his work email address. He wrote, and still does write, for numerous online outlets and his correspondence with those outlets was through his work email. He planned charity events on his own time and his point of contact with sponsors/partners was his work email. All was going great until one day my friend was downsized. He didn’t know what to do with himself because he was in the midst of planning another charity event and suddenly all his contacts were going to be unavailable to him as he wouldn’t have access to their main point of contact with him anymore. A whole network of people he had spent years developing was going to be that much more difficult to maintain contact with and his contact list would have to be reconstructed bit by bit. I watched him work through it and realized how much extra work he was putting himself through. This was work and hassle which could have been avoided if he’d just used his personal email account for these things.

There are so many different places online where you can get yourself a free email address from Gmail to Outlook to your Facebook account (yes, it has one) that there’s pretty much no excuse for not having one and using it other than the laziness of having to check/maintain watch over two email addresses.

2. Your Cell Phone

BlackBerry Q10, iPhone 4S, and Motorola RAZR HD LTE in a line

The second thing you should not let your job control is your cell phone. This one is so much more obvious than the email address that I’m surprised it needs to be said but, from what I have seen, it does. The why is a similar story to the email address:

A different friend of mine used her cell phone as her primary means of communication with the world as most of us do today and the cell phone was provided by her employers. All was well until she got let go suddenly and she had no phone anymore! Not only didn’t she have a phone, but she didn’t have her line anymore and the phone number which everyone knew was the best way to get in touch with her. It was all gone from one day to the next. My friend ended up getting a new phone and phone number that very day of course but in this day and age unless you’re moving to another country (or in Canada, a different city) there is almost no reason one would ever want to change their cell number. It’s just a hassle you won’t have to deal with if you plan things out.

“How should I plan things out?,” you ask. What I mean is checking if your employer would be OK with a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) system. BYOD means you “bring” your own, personal phone line and device to your job. Based on the mobile device usage your job requires of you and the price your provider charges for that usage your employer agrees to give you a certain amount of money extra per month on top of your pay which goes towards paying your cell phone bill. The beauty of this system is that it benefits everyone involved. For you when/if you leave your position with the company you don’t have to concern yourself with a new phone and new phone number because everything belongs completely to you. For your employer they just give you an extra sum on top of your pay per month and don’t ever have to deal with multiple employees’ usage of their phone lines and the accounting department doesn’t have to go over everyone’s cell phone bills every month to make sure there aren’t any unusual or wrong charges. It also means that you don’t have to go through your employer should you ever decide you want to upgrade your device to a newer/better model.

Of course, there are instances – like many law firms from what I have been told – where they don’t want you using your own device and require to use one of theirs. In that case, you can do what I know others do and carry 2 phones. This also means you can very easily separate between work and personal and you will be less likely to send out an email or text which can get you into trouble to the wrong person. If carrying 2 phones is something which really doesn’t appeal to you, you can always just put your personal phone line on one of the lowest cost per month plans and just keep it active for a pittance because, hey, you never know! Hope for the best, plan for the worst!

Thoughts?

Those are the two modern necessities I don’t think anyone should allow their employer to control but do you have any thoughts of other things that should be in a similar boat? I considered adding your car into this mix but I decided against it because if you live in a decent sized city there is usually public transit which, while not always ideal, is sufficient for most people’s needs for a day or two. There are also car rental companies all over the place and even services that let their members rent cars by the hour. With that said, I leave it to you to add things to this list or comment on it in the space below.

Photo Credit

Picture of coffee drinking man is a screenshot via the 1999 movie “Office Space

Sketched Mailbox with @ logo via Microsoft Office

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  1. July 23, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Absolutely agree with both suggestions.

    Indeed – When I subscribe to mailing lists I do so with BOTH my work and my personal email addresses. When I comment in mailing lists I usually only post from my personal email. That way the ‘opinions/comments are mine and not my employers’ are clear in the from line.

    As well I never want to be held hostage to not receiving my mail should I leave the employer or have to worry about changing anything.

    Plus – we have extremely (appropriately so) firm conflict of interest rules that forbid the use of government email for email personal business or communications that might benefit employees personally. By using work email accounts ONLY for work email and personal accounts for personal this never becomes a problem.

    For cell phone – I carry two (A work BlackBerry and a personal Android phone). It’s really easy I can call whomever I like and do whatever I want with my personal phone – the work phone is ONLY for work related matters and subject to work IT policies and restrictions.

    I can NEVER be accused of misusing work IT resources or benefitting personally from a work expense. It’s also nobody else’s business what I do on my own time on my personal phone.

    • July 23, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      Thanks for the thoughts, Peter!
      I think it is too easy for us to just rely on the phone/email address we are given by our employer – especially the phone – because we don’t want to have to pay for things on our own if we don’t absolutely have to.
      However, your points are definite added benefits!!!

  2. Danah
    July 30, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    I totally agree but with my company they phased out the we will pay a portion of your plan and now force you to have one of there phones, so the 2 phone policy is the only way to go. But losing your phone number would be a terrible pain especially in this day and age when we don’t physically have address books so contacting your contacts with your new number would be very difficult.

    I cannot imagine using my work email for personal things but I guess many people do.

    Great post!

  3. Chris
    September 13, 2013 at 9:32 pm

    These days you can buy dual sim card mobile phones… you can have two lines and two accounts on one phone. Something to think about.

    • September 15, 2013 at 8:37 pm

      Definitely something to consider Chris and thanks for the comment. However, for me the issue with a dual SIM phone is that they’re so few and far between your choices of them are limited to a paltry few options and usually not a near top of the line phone.

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