Why I Separate My Work and Personal Equipment

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  Wait just a minute here, my Company will pay my cell bill? Hearing that for the first time was honestly pretty awesome. Once I actually started to read through the terms and conditions I realized that as great as it would be to have one less bill dropped from my monthly expenses, Corporate was not just paying the bill out of the goodness of their heart. As time goes on and more and more regulations are placed on data these Agreements will only get more stringent.

    Fast forward years later along with many chances to be a spectator to the downside of blending tech equipment, I can confidently say, the decision I made to keep my personal and work tech separate was the right one. 

   Over the last couple years, I have started to see the shift of my fellow coworkers questioning the idea of having their own personal items stay their own. I definitely have felt for the longest time, I held a very unpopular opinion here, but I stand by it. Here’s why,

 Ownership and Potential Legal Issues

Next time you are given the option to select your path, I would encourage you to read that very, very, fine print. You will notice there are going to be specific terms for each company that you might work for. However, you can count on a few things, to receive your stipend, or to add your phone to the plan, you must follow the terms they have established. If you have any form of customer data within your devices, that is not your data, your Company is going to be protective and frankly, well within their rights to keep it secure through an MDM (Mobile Device Management) policy which can include requested or forced remote login.

   Along the lines of Customer data, we are seeing many different laws and regulations come into play and they will continue to do so. Data Sovereignty laws between different Countries, States, or even general location based security software can add complexity to your day to day.

   Another issue you always want to watch for is who would own IP. I have unfortunately, seen those who have used their work equipment for side gigs, or creating their own applications, ideas and more. This is a key reason to keep your items separate. If you came up with the next world changing app on your company phone, the last thing you want to do is get into a legal fight because you used Corporate equipment. It could turn out ok, but if you are working out legal issues instead of scale, that would be a bad way to get started. The Company could also bring on consequences for using their equipment on your side projects that might involve other revenue streams.

    Lastly, I used to be in the Cell phone sales business. I lived in an area that supported a larger percentage of Corporate end users. Some stories were when the employee started with the company they transferred their number over to the Corporate plan. However, they found a different opportunity and now want their number back. They have no control over that number any longer unless the Company signs off on the transfer. New number can fix it sure, but this cascades into the all issues. Lost your phone or laptop? Keep in mind that the company has to approve those replacements. Some are quick and easy, others, not so much. Don’t know who to contact to get a replacement? Who signs off on any changes? It can get complex real fast. 

   The peace of mind knowing that if for some reason you are obligated to turn in your phone, or the idea that your admins have the chance to scan for some wonderful ideas you came up with is not quite worth the free bill.

Privacy and Mental Health

For me personally, the above reasons are enough to keep my work tech separate. All of it is pretty inconvenient for just the purpose of having a Cell phone bill paid. 

  What I will say though, is the most important and overall true reasons for keeping your equipment separate is going to be for that freedom of your personal and work life. I have had phones or applications that you can split between work and personal profiles. My issue comes back to if it is right in front of you, its pretty easy to get caught up in work. You may harmlessly change to your work profile over the weekend or on your day off. One notification comes up and you are needed, that sale is falling through, that report needs editing. Even though you are on PTO or your day off, that feeling in the back of your head will now have the chance to live in your mind. Are you in the moment out hiking? Could I just take 5 minutes to fix this? Or are you needing to respond to that email right now? Distractions come too easy when it comes to work. 

  When I take Paid Time Off (not just working from anywhere), I make sure to shut down my work tech. It stays off, if there are issues, I will take care of them when I get back. Losing my ability to relax or to focus on what I am doing is never worth the cost of the distraction. Having blended technology means if someone is working on the weekend and sends a bunch of emails, you see them, or maybe they ping you via a collaboration tool, you are not expected to reply per se, but it is much easier when it is right in front of you. If I was using work tech, Clients could be calling that I would feel pressured to answer, or if you support multiple time zones you could see those missed calls or pings from all hours. This makes it hard to truly cut ties with work for your own time.

  The last point on privacy. This, of course being the everyone should know better. You would be surprised how many don’t. All activity that is done on that equipment could essentially come back. Had a rough week and vented a bit too much to some friends outside work? Accidentally clicked the wrong link and now you are forever hearing about your car’s extended warranty? Trying to hunt for a new job? Tracking software on your work equipment doesn’t shut down after hours. 


 Final Thought

All the legal and privacy issues aside. The most valuable thing I can say is, separating my work equipment and personal brings me the peace of mind needed to enjoy the present moment. I don’t want to get notices at all hours, or during breaks. The only way to really escape would be to completely shut down the phone, but then I couldn’t take pictures, or get in touch with friends or family, or navigate to my destination, it is not always practical. I am all for disconnecting or shutting down screens, but I would rather do that with my personal equipment on my terms. Until next time.


                              See You Around,


Dan McCabe
Dan McCabe

Long time remote worker with the dream of enabling everyone to join the remote workforce. Owner and Editor of caniworkfromhere.com.

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