Pros and Cons of a Company Cell Phone for Accountants

Infringing Benefits: The Company Phone

One item that is seldom overlooked when starting a new accounting job, whether with a big four firm or smaller practice, is whether or not to take the company provided cell phone. At first glance, it a no brainer decision to take the cell phone package. For an eager first year staff accountant it is both a status symbol and sign of importance in the new position. Before signing that contract and unwrapping your new Blackberry or iPhone take time to consider some of the following items:

Do I see myself working here for prolonged period of time?

Face it, turnover in public accounting is a fact of life. Before accepting that new phone think about your long-term goals and if you plan on staying in one place for a few years. Many times a company provided cell phone is contingent upon signing a one or two year contract with a cell phone provider and the employee being solely responsible for paying the monthly cell phone bill.  The employer will then reimburse the employee for the cost every month through and expense submission. If you decide to leave your position before the contract expires you may be responsible for paying for the remaining service period or the termination fees associated with the contract. In most cases, the employer owns both the telephone and the number meaning that you will not have the benefit of using the cell phone you are paying for after your separation from the employer.

Should my company phone serve as my only cell phone?

This is really a tough decision. The decision is mainly one of convenience over features. If you are a compulsive user of text messages, the company phone may not be a smart decision. A key thing to remember is that corporate cell phone packages are geared for business, not recreation. In most cases, unlimited minutes and text messaging plans are not offered as part of the company package. One will find plans with a decent number of minutes, a couple hundred text messages, and unlimited data and e-mail services. If you happen to exceed your monthly minute or text message allotments plan on shelling out an additional fifteen to twenty-five cents per minute or text. In summary, if you do not use the phone a great deal of time or are not a rapid texter, then the corporate phone may be your best bet to help lower your monthly bills.

Do I want my employer to have access to me 24/7?

Accepting a company cell phone means that you are agreeing to allow the company to not only have constant contact with you during the business day, but also in the evenings and on weekends. Unlike your own personal cell phone, you do not have the excuse of being unreachable when away from the office. E-mails will continue to flood your inbox and calls from your manager will continue into the night. Public accounting and its endless schedule during busy season makes it almost impossible to escape work with the company phone on your side. Whether it is an early morning text message telling you to stop by the office and pick up files or that dreadful holiday phone call for a late night inventory, you give up a lot of freedom by having that phone. With that in mind, having constant access to your e-mail is not always a bad thing. If you are working on tight deadlines it makes it handy to be able to get that file from your client on the go or reach your manager when unsure of how to handle a complicated task.

Conclusion

Company phones can be a valuable benefit that will make your life as a new accountant a whole lot easier. With that in mind, my purpose here has been to give you some food for thought when making that important decision on whether or not to take a company cell phone.  Don’t forget to check out some other great ideas in our Busy Season Survival Guide!

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