Cell Phone Etiquette for the Workplace

Small business owners and employees often deal with pressing situations, and a delayed response can mean losing a customer, a sale and, ultimately, money. While a quick text might be able to save the day, you don’t want to create a workplace culture void of cell phone etiquette. Combining some basic rules with common sense expectations will ensure your staff can effectively use their cell phones at work without developing rude habits.

Create Workplace Etiquette Rules for Cell Phone Use

Begin by establishing a short list of rules to set minimum expectations regarding cell phone etiquette in the office. Your employees will be resistant to strict or unrealistic requirements, so don’t ban cell phones at work unless there's a security or safety issue. However, you may want to set rules such as asking team members to keep their mobile phones on silent and to limit personal phone calls to breaks and emergency situations. It's also appropriate to ban the use of smartphones for playing games, watching videos or texting and chatting while on the clock. 

Special Rules for Meetings

Cell phone etiquette at work tends to suffer most during meetings — especially among busy company leaders. Some organizations forbid staff from bringing mobile phones into meetings, but not everyone has that luxury. For example, you want your production manager to get immediate notification if there's a problem on the floor, so you need to rely on his common sense when it comes to cell phone use. Ask staff members to respect each other, keep phones in pockets and avoid excessive under-the-table smartphone use. If you notice an employee using his cell phone during most of a meeting, address the habit in a private, one-on-one discussion at a later time. While excessive cell phone use may indicate the staff member is doing something not work-related, the person could be taking notes.

Be a Good Example

One of the best things a leader can do to promote proper mobile phone workplace etiquette is to model the behavior. If you're constantly checking your phone, surfing the Web or replying to texts, your team is likely to do the same. Keep your phone to the side and avoid checking it when speaking one on one with employees. Only use your phone during a meeting if there's an urgent issue and, when possible, explain the problem to team members so they understand why your attention was pulled away from them. Let your assistant and others who frequently communicate with you know that when you're in a meeting, you won't answer unless you see two calls from the same person within five minutes — this allows them to alert you to an emergency.

Modeling and expecting good cell phone etiquette in the workplace helps to ensure your team connects personally and professionally. Removing electronic barriers increases team morale, communication and the ability to prioritize efforts for success.


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