My Android work profile setup

I am using an Android work profile to separate work and private content and apps on my phone for a few months now. As I haven’t found much public information, I’m documenting my setup i the hope that others might find it useful.

An important side note: this setup doesn’t require an enterprise managed identity – it will probably work for any Android phone that can use work profiles. I use an Samsung Galaxy A41 Android 11 phone professionally and privately, separating private data from work data via an Android work profile [1]. Samsung Knox [2] implements work profiles on A41, which however require the phone to be registered with an enterprise account – there is no phone setting to just enable work profiles, but there are free apps that do this.

Installation

Work profile is enabled through the Shelter app [3] from the Play store. This doesn’t require a rooted phone. So the first thing to do is install that app and follow the installation instructions.

Shelter allows cloning apps from the private profile to the work profile, but I didn’t go that way. Instead, open the work profile from system settings and open the Play store. Now you have to register with another Google account (I don’t know if you can use the same account registered with the private profile – I used a different account). Now you can install almost any app you like into the private profile.

Shelter screenshot. Source Google Play.

Work profile app shortcuts are created through Shelter (the menu item currently is called “Create unfreeze and/or launch…”). Conveniently and super-handy, “Allow widgets in main profile” allows adding work profile widgets to the private launcher / home screen.

Shelter screenshot. Source Google Play.

I use Gboard [9] for typing, but a Knox “security policy” [4] won’t allow an alternative keyboard on the work profile. Fortunately there is an unlikely workaround:


1. install Gboard into the work profile
2. install a second language (eg. English US and English UK)
3. Open work profile settings – More setting – Keyboard and input – Keyboard list and default – and enable Gboard multilingual typing
4. Now on the same page, change Default Keyboard to Gboard.

My setup

Home screen with work profile apps

As written, I use a Samsung A41 with Android 11, dual SIM with two phone numbers & two mobile network accounts. I like the dark theme and use LineX [10] icon pack for visual contrast.

I gathered all work-related apps and widgets on a separate screen, for work-life balance reasons. The first, private profile, screen shows a combined inbox of private emails, a private calendar, the weather and news. The following thematically grouped screens contain app shortcuts and the last screen contains work-related apps and widgets.

For a bit of extra security and privacy, I installed NoRoot firewall which sets itself up as a VPN and filters outgoing network connections per app. That is useful for blocking apps from phoning home which shouldn’t be connecting to the internet at all, eg. games or offline tools like calculators.

Screenshot of NoRoot Firewall. Source Google Play.

The BOM:

Shelter app for managing work profile.

Microsoft Outlook [5] for private emails and another instance through Shelter for work emails. Notifications disabled. I used to use One Calendar (paid version) before which is one of the few calendar apps which support Exchange, but it lacks customisations.

Google Contacts [6] for private contacts. I use work profile Outlook for managing work contacts.

Google Calendar [7] widget for private appointments and the work profile Outlook calendar widget for work appointments, because Google Calendar doesn’t sync with the work MS Exchange calendar.

Microsoft Teams [8] as a work profile shortcut. I disabled all notifications except for calls.

Gboard [9], which is a fantastic app with great support for multi-lingual swyping.

NoRoot Firewall [11] installs itself as a VPN and can block outgoing network connections for any chosen app.

Caveats

I recently tried to reproduce this setup on a Samsung XCover 5 and Android 13 which didn’t go as well as with the A41. Shelter won’t unlock the work profile, but Samsung’s Secure Folder [12] (requires account registration) unlocks similar, albeit more cumbersome features. Unfortunately, work profile widgets won’t work.

Resources

[1] Android work profile
https://support.google.com/work/android/answer/6191949?hl=en

[2] Samsung Knox
https://www.samsungknox.com/en

[3] Shelter
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=net.typeblog.shelter&hl=en&gl=US

[4] Third-party keyboards in a work profile
https://docs.samsungknox.com/admin/knox-platform-for-enterprise/kbas/kba-360001485027.htm

[5] Microsoft Outlook on the Play Store
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.office.outlook&hl=en&gl=US

[6] Google Contacts
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.contacts&hl=en&gl=US

[7] Google Calendar
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.calendar&hl=en&gl=US

[8] Microsoft Teams
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.microsoft.teams&hl=en&gl=US

[9] Gboard
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.inputmethod.latin&hl=en&gl=US

[10] LineX icon pack
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.jndapp.line.x.iconpack&hl=en&gl=US

[11] NoRoot Firewall
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=app.greyshirts.firewall

[12] Secure Folder
https://www.samsung.com/uk/support/mobile-devices/what-is-the-secure-folder-and-how-do-i-use-it/

3 thoughts on “My Android work profile setup

  1. What about work messages?
    I have kind of the same setup but can’t get the message app (sms/text) to work in the work profile. And there seems to be some trouble with the Microsoft (work) account to sync my contacts.

    Like

    1. Thank you for pointing that out. I use a dual SIM and separate messages through the SIM card manager. Out of curiosity I tried to set it up under the work profile which fell flat with an error similar to “only the device owner can use messages”. Unfortunately I don’t know a way to get this working.

      Like

      1. I did not give up and finally stumbled upon a helpful walkthrough on this website:
        https://www.wideanglesoftware.com/blog/how-to-sync-outlook-contacts-to-android.php

        In short I had to allow some permissions in my Outlook account and
        activate sync contacts in my 365 account.

        Now I have all my work contacts in the phone app on the work profile,
        and all my private contacts on the phone app on the private profile.
        I’m using the “same” app for both profiles, just cloned.
        This works both for the phone and contacts app.

        I also use Microsoft’s launcher and removed the favorite bar down below
        so I can have different apps on different screens instead of the same on all screens.
        One screen dedicated for work apps and one for private apps.

        Like

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