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Six tips to avoid a work-related smartphone faux pas

The evolution of the smartphone and the way we communicate means that today it’s never been easier to deal with work related messages, emails, social posts and calls remotely and around the clock. But for a quarter of us, this is done using our own personal handset which means the line between our personal and professional lives has never been thinner

Previous research by YourBuisnessNumber found that one in 10 of us have sent messages of a personal nature to a colleague or client by accident, while the recent probe into lockdown parties at No.10 have demonstrated how even intentional messages can make a rod for our own back further down the line.

But it’s not just these smartphone faux pas that can be an issue in the workplace. The way we conduct ourselves in the digital world via our own personal channels can also have severe consequences.

One of the most notable examples in recent times was the Savills agent who was fined and arrested for a string of abhorrent tweets, directing racial abuse at England’s football players following their Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

While an extreme case, it demonstrates that just because something is said, sent or posted outside of working hours or from a personal device, it doesn’t excuse you from conducting yourself within the codes of practice of your company and acting as a brand ambassador on public platforms.

YourBusinessNumber has put together six tips to help you ensure your personal smartphone activity doesn’t negatively impact your professional progression.

Separation is key
Keeping separation between your work and personal life is key to avoid blurring the lines and burning out, but it’s not just mental separation that is needed. Most of us have two handsets to help keep work alerts at bay out of office hours and this can go a long way in preventing any smartphone faux pas from personal accounts.

However, the average work phone produces 776,112 tons of CO2e per year – that’s the equivalent of almost 500,000 return flights from London to New York. It also costs over £500 per employee on average and so it’s becoming more common for personal phones to double as professional comms devices.

Clear organisation and mapping can help dictate what you use your device for and at what times, but there are also a wealth of apps available that will help enforce this separation, such as WhatsApp Business, allowing you to turn them off completely when the working day is done.

Think before you post
Always take a minute to consider what you’re posting or sending.

Stay away from personal views or jokes, controversial topics, politics or conversations that don’t relate to you or your professional line of work.

If you’re posting on a work account, consider whether or not the content fits with the company’s social media policy and if you’re not sure, it’s better not to post it.

Rude or offensive comments, even in jest, should never be shared with social followings, colleagues or clients. Even a brief pause can help bring clarity and prevent you from posting something publicly that you may later wish you hadn’t.

It’s good practice to always get a second opinion from someone else at home or in the workplace to give you a better gauge of how your message or post might be received.

While offensive language should never be used, you should also consider how you communicate in general. Certain slang terms or abbreviations may now be outdated, even offensive, while poor grammar, spelling or a lack of punctuation will certainly make you look unprofessional.

Even memes can be inappropriate and not fitting with a professional environment or platform.

Lock your devices
The only thing worse than making your own comms blunder is someone else doing it for you. Locking your devices won’t protect you from thieves, but it will prevent them from using any work related comms channels and posting inappropriate content or accessing sensitive information.

Always make sure that your social comms apps can be locked or signed out remotely as this will ensure that even if your phone is unlocked, your clients, colleagues and consumers won’t receive anything malicious.

Take precautions on public Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi can be notoriously perilous due to the lower levels of security. To fully protect both yourself and your company, always opt for mobile data or save communicating until you’re back on a private connection.

No drunk posts
Always avoid messaging or posting content when inebriated. While you might not plan to tweet anything particularly offensive, failing to see you’re still using the company Twitter profile before posting drunken nonsense, for example, is never a good look.

George Lineker, Co-founder of YourBusinessNumber, commented:

“Regardless of whether you send it personally or professionally, there’s no place for online or workplace abuse in this day and age and there’s unfortunately no helping those that can’t seem to grasp this.

But for the majority, a little bit of guidance can help us ensure that we don’t make any embarrassing mishaps when it comes to communicating with colleagues, clients or the wider public.

Always pause for a minute to think about what you’re saying, how you’re saying it and who you’re saying it to. If you’re not sure, it’s probably better left unsaid.”