Whether viewed as an employee perk or mental health hazard, personal work phones have quickly become a defining feature of the modern workplace…


Whether viewed as an employee perk or mental health hazard, personal work phones have quickly become a defining feature of the modern workplace. Of course, it didn’t always used to be this way. Our perception of phones was entirely different only a decade or so ago. Back then, we treated them as an accessory used to serve a specific purpose, like a watch or wallet. We’d only take our phones out to make a call, arrange a lift or find out why someone was late. Even the most advanced models – such as the classic corporate BlackBerry – were limited to basic email access on the go.


Mobile technology and Internet connectivity have evolved rapidly since then, changing the face of work and society as we know it. We now use mobile devices incessantly, whether calling, texting, reading emails, sharing files, scanning news stories or browsing social media. For many, phones are no longer just another accessory; they have become the centre of our personal universe.


Usage in the average office is just as prevalent. A recent study led by Deloitte found that 66% of workers now use smartphones for work purposes every single day. This has serious consequences for employers looking to maximise performance and productivity on a day-to-day basis – and ultimately whether providing personal work phones will create more benefit than harm.


Enabling flexibility in a digital world


Whether it’s a small start-up looking to improve mobility or a multinational corporation rolling out a company-wide benefit initiative, work phones often have a positive impact for businesses looking to maximise communication, productivity and performance.


“Technology is key in building a flexible workforce,” says Ann Pickering, Chief HR Officer and Chief of Staff at O2 UK. “Providing employees with their own mobile phone enables them to stay productive when they are out of the office or in transit. It allows staff to access emails and documents safely and securely. They can also host or join virtual conference calls. Businesses must always look for ways in which innovative technology can help boost productivity and flexible working for both our employees and customers.


“As a mobile-led organisation, anybody at O2 that needs a phone for business use are given their own mobile phone. They can also use this for personal use, or as a separate work phone. We understand that our employees work differently; some prefer to have just one phone, especially if they spend a lot of time travelling around the country visiting stores for example, while others choose to work and personal life.”