The line between our work and personal lives is blurring at a breakneck pace, largely fueled by the practice of BYOD (bring your own device), which started with cellphones and has moved into iPads, laptops, and heaven knows what else. There has always been a tendency for people to use their work machines for personal use; whether it was surfing the internet and paying bills on their work issued computers, to canceling their personal cellphones and landlines and relying exclusively on their work phones. I certainly understand the draw – my pockets get pretty full with all my crap, but there are risks.
Case in point, I recently read about a sexual harassment case where an employee received a very odd, but definitely suggestive text by her boss after hours. While the article didn’t state it, in reading the text and a little bit of the background, I came to the somewhat reasonable conclusion that it was likely a drunk text. Things just got weird after that. The thing is, the article that was discussing the case wasn’t so much about the facts, which makes sense really: the moron (probably) drunk texted his employee; not a lot to discuss there. Instead it talked about the legal aspects of how the case was handled on appeal and how the company dodged a bullet out of what I would simply refer to as a technicality. Well, I’m not about helping you out with technicalities. I am assuming that if you are reading this, you would likely prefer to not find yourself in the situation where your questionable text message has been blown up poster-sized for a judge and possible jury to ponder over.
Rather, what I want to talk about is the fact that the personal/professional line got blurred here, namely the boss texting his employee on her personal phone. The fact that he was (probably) intoxicated leaves me to believe that he had her number in his address book (I can’t remember my own phone number when I’m sober…) which brings me to the gist of this. Why did he have her phone number in the address book in his phone?
Here’s a hypothetical: let’s say you have been exchanging some steamy texts between a lovely number named Cecilia. Good for you, except when you text Cecil, one of your subordinates who is also in your address book, and tell him that you can’t wait to: _____________________ (just let your imagination run wild here), and then you hit send. Maybe you realize what you did or maybe not. At best you are embarrassed. Worse case… I’ll let your imagination run wild on that one too.
Look, you may feel that the headache of having to carry two phones is not worth it. If that is the case, one thing to consider is an app where you get a separate number. Sure it costs a few bucks, but it may be worth considering. Maybe your company has a BYOD policy, and it is just not feasible to NOT keep your addresses where they are easily accessible, look into your address book – there is likely a way you can create a separate address book for your work contacts. Or download a separate app, like Outlook to use for your work stuff. I know there are a number of options out there, but I can speak from personal experience that Outlook does keep everything separate. Now, for the record I am not endorsing Microsoft, but if you happen to work for them, and have access to some marketing funds, I can drill on and on about the virtues of Office… Maybe it is a little different, but it can save you from an embarrassing situation, and that is what I am here for: keeping you from looking like a moron.
You are welcome.
By the way, in case you are curious about what a separation of work and personal email, contacts, etc. might look like, here is a visual aid.