When your Business Life Bleeds into Personal Life

When you are a manager of a bunch of employees who travel it can be difficult for the manager to keep track of all the moving pieces. It is difficult to make sure everyone is getting up to date information in a timely manner. Recently, the manager where I work came up with the idea of having the team install What’s App on our personal phones. This way he can put out a message in one place for us all to read and we all have one place to check in and let the manager know we arrived on site.  The idea makes sense, but the reality so far has been business bleeding into my personal life way more than it already does.

At first, I resisted the idea of putting an app on my personal phone, I don’t know anything about it; is it safe? If the company wants to monitor me with an electronic leash, they should provide me a company phone that has all required software. They never mentioned in the job posting, the interview, or the onboarding process that I would be required to use my personal equipment for business reasons. But after a little thinking, I decided to be a team player and do what I was asked without making a fuss.

The benefit of playing along should be that I get to communication from the manager and the office faster. Our project is in a process of rapid change, this is a good benefit. Two days into the experiment the reality changes. A mid-level manger decides to post a personal vacation photo to our “Important Information” thread. This opens the flood gates of personal information now being shared constantly in the app.

Friday night I get several messages on my phone with coworkers sharing what they are drinking at their favorite bar, what cigar lounge they are currently hanging out at, and who is hosting a party at their home. These messages keep coming in until almost midnight. Someone please tell me how this is “Important Information.”

The trend keeps going on Saturday, with messages about Tigger Woods and what people are eating for breakfast.  Some people were even posting religious messages without regard to the fact that not everyone on the team is of the same religion. It is now the end of the weekend and I have received over 100 messages from What’s App and over half of them have nothing to do with work.

It would be nice if I could just turn off the thread in the application but some of the messages are actually about work. So, I have to wade through nonsense to find what I actually have to do and be aware of. In my opinion, if the team wants everyone that much in their personal life, they are free to start another thread but should keep our work thread clear of anything not related to, you know, work.  

The experience this weekend got me to thinking; when is it reasonable for an employer to expect an employee to use their personal resources for business reasons? When you are not on salary, is it reasonable to expect so much of one’s business life to bleed into the personal life?

All I can say at this moment is, I sure hope the manager cracks down on people using the “Important Information” thread for personal information. I just don’t need to know that much information about my coworkers.

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