It might be a good idea to delete suggestive photos from your phone before going to work. Just a thought.

This is definitely not a business-travel specific tip—more of a general, good for everyone tip. But this story happened privateto a friend of mine on a business trip, so I figure it totally counts as something I can write about. And honestly, it serves as a good reminder to those need it….

My friend P was on a short trip to a southern state, visiting customers. He met up with a colleague to discuss the successes and challenges of a recent trade show. Part of this was looking at photos from the event on the colleague’s phone. While perusing through the twenty or so photos of booths, equipment, and demos, a photo popped up that was decidedly not work-related. It was a picture of the colleague’s, ahem, privates. “Whoops!” the colleague said as he scrolled past it. Then yet another photo, from a different angle, came up. “Whoops!” he said again, moving on to the next photo. My friend didn’t say anything, frankly dumbfounded. They both pretended like it never happened and continued talking about work.

I just…can’t even. It sure seems like people shouldn’t have to be told to delete extremely personal pictures off of their phone, especially if they will be using their phone for work. Right?? As P was telling me about this, he said he couldn’t believe it when the first picture came up. Then the second! While there are certainly potential HR ramifications, he’s not reporting the guy. But that doesn’t mean that another person wouldn’t! I mean, this could have serious, serious implications for the guy’s future employment. Not to mention, do you really want coworkers seeing your parts??

Look. If you’re going to take explicit pictures, that is totally your call. But please, please, delete them off of your phone so no one sees them unintentionally, like your coworker, boss, or mom (yikes). And if it’s a work issued phone, DO NOT take the pictures in the first place. That is just a termination waiting to happen.

Readers, have you ever accidentally been shown personal photos? How should my friend have handled this?

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  1. I work in corporate IT and you would be amazed the things I’ve seen on company provided devices.

    iPhones have an option to “hide” photos. Which puts them into the “hidden” folder, which is visible under photos, but does take ones that a person may prefer not to be be accidentally displayed under the general photo tab.

  2. Just to ensure I don’t have pictures that I would rather others don’t see, I just put everything I need to show anyone in a separate folder. It’s not that difficult folks.

  3. That’s beyond messed up on many professional levels – the fact the guy kept swiping after the first pic showed up… is disturbing. When I had a work paid phone 2 jobs ago, I also had a personal phone of my own at the same time. Sometimes it was a pain but it helped keep the two 100% separate – and that’s not because of pics I was worried about, but just emails and fb posts and my personal life – all it takes is one email or fb post about work and trouble can start. Even on my only phone now, I keep all my work contacts in a separate folder locked out with a code so if I text or call someone it’s very deliberate (I had a former coleage lose their job due to drink texting some coworkers. If this guy is that ignorant and doesn’t seem to care about what happened… it’s gonna catch up with him at somepoint.

  4. Your friend should’ve immediately overreacted, contacted HR about a clearly hostile work environment, and started a media blitz about people who overshare selfies…or just laugh about the awkward situation and not try to make the situation worse for the fellow who likely did not intend to mix his personal life with work.

  5. I do not encourage those types of pictures, but you can always create an album for work events. Then you don’t have to see personal pictures at all.

  6. I had a supervisor who sent inappropriate text messages “by mistake” to his subordinates with explicit content. He did it repeatedly to different subordinates. It was small enough that most people didn’t think that it was a big deal, but when one person finally reported it, and HR started asking some questions, it was clear that it was not a mistake, but an intentional behavior. He would gauge his subordinates reaction to the message and determine whether he’d likely get away with further sexual harassment.

    I don’t know if this is the situation here or not, but I just want to point out that something small can lead to larger issues.

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