What to Do About Cell Phone Use at Work

Employees using Cell Phones at Work

Do you find employees texting or reading their emails during meetings?  Is your office filled with the sounds of chirping, singing, and chimes as employee cell phones ring throughout the day?

With over 90% of Americans owning cell phones, we’ve all come to rely on them to not only keep us in touch, but to keep us entertained, take pictures, play music, store data, help us shop, and as many other uses as programmers can conceive of.

Do you have to allow cell phones to disrupt your workplace?

Absolutely not!

In fact, it’s a good idea to include a cell phone policy in your Employee Handbook.  Cell phone courtesy may seem like common sense to some, but other employees need guidance on what’s appropriate.

Create a cell phone/personal electronics policy for your office.

Some elements you might want to include in your policy would be:

  • Whether cell phones must be on vibrate during work hours
  • The number and nature of calls employees may receive during the workday
  • Whether employees may bring cell phones into meetings
  • If headset devices like Bluetooths can be used in the office
  • Restricting cell phone use while employees are driving on company business

Another important issue to consider is whether you want to prohibit the use of camera phones in the workplace.  This is of particular concern in regards to corporate security, confidentiality of company information, and employee privacy.  Many companies are developing policies prohibiting or restricting the use of camera phones in the workplace.

You need to think about “who, what and where” when creating your cell phone policy.

Are there some employees that need to use a cell phone during the day?  Employees who are generally out of the office may have clients and contacts that are used to contacting them this way, even when they’re physically in the office.

There are any number of reasons why cell phones might play an important role in the day-to-day functioning of your business.  If this is the case, your policy must be nuanced enough to allow for the use of cell phones, while prohibiting the abuse of them.

  • Who:  Ask yourself which employees have legitimate business uses for cell phones at work.  If cell phones are essential to some, but not to others, build this data into your policy.
  • What:  Identify what uses are acceptable, while outlining which ones aren’t (for instance, you may want to specify that speaking or texting with clients is fine, but downloading games or music is not).
  • Where:  Determine if acceptable cell phone use is dependent upon an employee’s location.  If you only want employees using their cell phones when they’re out of the office and otherwise unreachable, specify that.  If there are specific times when cell phone use in the office is inappropriate, such as during staff meetings, incorporate that in your policy as well.

Management must be good role models.

Whether you put out a blanket policy banning cell phone use at work, or you create a nuanced policy that dictates acceptable and unacceptable uses, be sure that the members of your management team are willing to be a good role model!

If the boss is texting during a meeting, answering her cell phone every time it rings, or loading her phone up with music, it’s difficult to ask the staff to comply with the rules you’ve laid out!

Cell phones are here to stay.

It is becoming more common for people to utilize a cell phone in lieu of a land line at home.  This is increasing the number of cell phones in the workplace — along with the number of calls to those phones.

It’s one thing when employees receive a personal call on the company’s phone, which is handled through the corporate phone system.  But a ringing cell phone can only be answered by one person, and it disturbs everyone in its vicinity, whether it is in the office, or in the conference room.

Good employers want to be family friendly work environments.  This means we want our employees’ families to be able to reach them when necessary during the workday.  However, setting a reasonable cell phone policy will reduce the interruptions and annoyance for all concerned.

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    One Response to “What to Do About Cell Phone Use at Work”

    1. I think that cell phones are addictive and they are simply the cigarettes of this age. My Mom remembers when women would smoke in the workplace. Mom said that her coworkers smoked at their desks and the polite thing to do was to “ignore it”. Now there are so many women (and men) talking and texting in the work place and they’re not getting very much work done. These individuals assume that “everyone at work texts” and that it doesn’t affect their productivity. I know for a fact that cell phone distractions do affect productivity. I work for a preschool and the children are not being supervised properly when their teacher is looking down at her phone and texting. We’ve had some injuries that probably could have been prevented had the teacher been more attentive. Cell phone distractions are a huge problem in child care facilities in the area where I live.

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