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How To Have Private Calls During Work Hours

It’s Wednesday afternoon. You’re sitting at your desk. Suddenly, your phone starts to ring. Private number. You have no idea who it is – your doctor, your long-lost friend or even a recruiter.

Your palms start sweating. Your stomach turns. Who could it possibly be? You look around for the nearest empty meeting room. Is your boss around? What will your colleagues think if you run out of the office? 

The phone stops – you took too long. Bad luck, game over.

We all have personal stuff going on. From dentist appoints to getting internet installed to finding a new job, we all have things we need to do during work hours which just can’t wait until 5 o’clock.


  • Don’t think that your manager is watching your every move. Chances are they have other things to worry about – both in work and their personal lives. Heck, they’re probably waiting for a call from someone too!
  • Answer your phone first time if you can. Usually, you’ll have about 30 seconds to make it to a private area. Whoever is calling you is wanting to talk to you there and then. They’re likely to be busy if you call back later. Other people calling their dentist, builder or recruiter will all call back at the same time (at lunch, straight before and after work) so work around these times if you can. Once you’ve established a dialogue with someone and calling is difficult, try and lock down times of the day that work for both of you.
  • For many people, the safest bet is to walk into a meeting room. Try to have an expression of confidence and not one of fear. It will look like you’re having a private call but it could be from anyone. You’ll look like you’re doing important work even though you’re not. If it’s a really private conversation, make sure the door is closed and be aware of soundproofness – or lack of. If you’ve got a booming voice, speaking quieter won’t make any difference to the person you’re talking to (turn up the volume on your phone) but will minimise the odds that your whole office can listen in.
  • If there are no meeting rooms available, you could try running to the toilets. You’ll also have the soundproofing issue and some office toilets are buried in the centre of the building where phone reception is minimal. 
  • Work out a good spot near work as your office-away-from-your-office. It might be a park, an alley way or on the side of the road. You’ll likely use this spot more than once, so get familiar with it so you feel comfortable there. Make sure it’s not in a noisy area and that you won’t get distracted. Sheltered from the wind and rain helps too.
  • If your secret caller is a recruiter, remember you’re not the only person in your office looking for a new gig. People stay in jobs for three years on average. If you have 30 people in your office, 10 will leave this year – that’s nearly one a month. So relax – and if someone suspects you’ve got your eye elsewhere, they probably feel relieved that they’re not the only one.

Whatever the reason for you needing to take care of personal things between 9 and 5, it’s often a short term pain for a longer term gain. 

For other savvy work-related tips, give the team at Consult a call on 09 410 7235. 

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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