Risk Insider: Marilyn Rivers

A Tale of Two Phones

By: | September 14, 2015

Marilyn Rivers, CPCU, ARM, AIC, currently serves as the director of risk and safety — city safety and compliance officer for a municipality in Upstate New York and is a director at large and delegate for the government and public sector division of the National Safety Council. She can be reached at [email protected].

I used to get laughed at when I emptied my pockets and brought out two phones. “Two phones? What’s the matter, one not enough?”

In the past, I might have had to explain the jest. Not so much now with the headlines in the press related to the sports and political arenas.

Risk professionals are a two phone commodity. They separate life and work. It’s schizophrenic really, but ever so intelligent.

They understand the principle that work phones are owned by the employer they work for. They contain emails, appointments, files and notes of everything that is expected of you in your work life. The totality of that work experience is owned by your employer.

That means it might pay to hesitate before hitting the send button on a text telling your boss or client where to get off next.

An IT gent once offered to link my work and personal phones to which I yelled – “STOP” – scaring the life out of him.

I’m often amazed when a phone gets subpoenaed and the person I need to take it from looks at me like a crazed caged animal. “Phone? You want to take my phone?!”

Yes, really, but you do understand it’s really not your phone? You get to keep it in your possession, stroke it, charge it and use it for as long as your services are needed. Your phone is paid for by your employer. That means they get to review your monthly usage and analyze your effectiveness in managing that work tool.

Puppy videos, you say? Hot weekend at the beach? Sassy dialogue with a co-worker? Yup, those texts, calls, pictures and videos on that work phone of yours belong to your employer.

Cries of “personal … invasion of privacy … violation of your civil rights” fall on deaf ears for your employer. Lose your job, lose your work phone and often lose your lifeline to reality.

Our phones have become a part of who we are and how we relate to society. They are appendages that never leave our possession and reflect who we are as people, what each of us contributes good or bad to society and how we often measure our existence.

The word “personal” means yours and yours alone. It means you don’t have to share because you’re totally responsible – figuratively, monetarily and morally for that little device you hold close to your ear.

A perusal of my personal phone will find hundreds of pictures of my family in various stages of life, my personal email, texts on a myriad of hot topics and my calendar. My personal phone like yours is a reflection of a personal life.

An IT gent once offered to link my work and personal phones to which I yelled – “STOP” – scaring the life out of him.

I’m not interested in lightening my pocket, streamlining my communication processes or merging my life. I’m interested in the boundaries established by the continents I call my communication devices. I’m protective of the world I want and need to call my own.

Two phones come to life and live a life of their own, regardless of which pocket they reside in. Learn the difference so that you may survive the public scrutiny of your world.

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