Cube vs. Corner: The personal phone call at work

employee employer relationship


We’re talking about the personal phone call at work in this episode of Cube vs. Corner. How does the boss feel about employees taking personal calls at work? How do employees feel when the boss takes personal phone calls at work? What’s acceptable? What’s not okay?

Brad and Devan talk it out!


So I noticed that you have been taking some calls on your cell phone and then stepping out of the office. Usually when I see that I feel like someone is looking for a job and they don’t want me to hear their conversations. It makes me want to be a snoop and see if you are spending time on, or have recently updated your LinkedIn profile — but based on our recent conversations I’m pretty sure you are happy here. I’m sure there are other conversations that you might not want to be having in our open plan office, but it seems so secretive and suspicious. What’s up?


To be totally honest, I don’t really know how to handle personal calls at work. I’m not sure how much information about my life outside of work my boss should know, and so I’d leave the office because I thought it’d be weird to have the boss listening in. (Brad sits across the office from me.)

Butttt to answer your question, as you know, I just bought (my first) car and have been back and forth with insurance agents finding a policy. It’s hard to take care of that stuff when they also have 9-5 hours, too. I guess my go-to thing to do is to excuse myself from the office to take a personal call, because I feel like it’s awkward to stay on the phone with the boss around when dealing with personal matters, like doctors appointments.

Though we’ve never talked about a personal call policy before.

You and Stacy will take personal calls to chat with a friend sometimes for a good chunk of time. Then again, you’re also the boss. 🙂 What are your thoughts on that?


Obviously, I take all kinds of personal calls at my desk; and yes I do sometimes wonder if you need to know that I’m refinancing my house, or that I’m mad at my daughter for coming home late. But in an open plan office that’s what happens. I understand that you need to take personal calls at work. You’re a person, not a robot. If you’re having a 35 min social call I might raise my eyebrows — but only if you made a habit of it. You work at home frequently enough, I assume you are working hard there.

I understand if you don’t want me to listen in on your business, and I’ll try not to take it so personal if you step out in the hall. Just tell me how much you love working here when you come back. 🙂


Hah! Well I had no idea that’s what it felt/looked like to you when I stepped out for a call — I didn’t mean to worry you! I just thought I was being courteous for saving you from hearing me negotiate auto insurance quotes. I’m glad we talked about this.


How does it feel when your employees step out for personal calls? Have you ever discussed a personal call policy with your employees?


Devan Perine

Devan Perine works with small business owners on their marketing and multimedia efforts. She's passionate about helping businesses build their presence online, and giving Gen Y a voice in the workplace. When she's not working, she loves to make a mess in the kitchen, and play with her band around Chicago. She loves to chat! Give her a shout on Google+, Twitter or LinkedIn.

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