These days, we’re never on the go without a cell phone in hand. Whether you are a GenXer at the hair salon, a millennial on a mountain bike or a soccer mom at the grocery store, we depend on the connectivity that a cell phone provides. Smart phones provide our news and our entertainment. When we find ourselves unexpectedly without our phones, we don’t know where to look or what to do with our hands.
But, have you ever asked yourself if your cell phone is killing your productivity at work? According to Pew Research Center, cell phone owners between the ages of 18 and 24 exchange an average of 109.5 messages on a normal day—more than 3,200 texts per month! If we assume a millennial spends one third of their day at work, they are receiving somewhere between 30-40 messages during a workday.
The buzz of our phone can interrupt our thought process long enough to distract us from what we were doing. One buzz from a text message can make us think about paying a bill, ordering an item online, checking our calendar, and wishing a friend happy birthday on social media. It’s no wonder our productivity tanks with our favorite device always on our person.
According to a survey by Kessler International, upper and mid-level managers say that “untimely and inappropriate use of cellphones” is the number one etiquette breach of their employees. What do we do with this knowledge? While it is difficult to part with our favorite device during the day, we must find ways to limit the distractions that our phones provide. This is Jaime Marie, and here are a few basic rules on cell phone etiquette in the workplace…
Turn Your Ringer Off
If you have your cell phone with you at work, don’t let it ring out loud. If you don’t want to turn it off completely, set it to vibrate.
Another route you may consider is turning all personal alerts to “Do not disturb” while at work. Turning off alerts for anything extra and forcing yourself to only check your phone manually will make you check it less.
Only Use Your Cell Phone for Important Calls
If you have your cell phone at work, only use it for important calls.
What should you classify as an important call? The school nurse calling to say your child is ill, your child calling to say he’s arrived home from school safely, and family emergencies that you must deal with immediately are important.
Your friend calling to chat, your child calling to ask what’s for dinner or your seamstress calling to say your clothes are ready for pickup can all wait until you are done with work or on a break.
In Meetings, avoid “Reading Under the Table.”
Most people know to turn their phone to silent in a meeting. However, it’s not the occasional phone ringing that’s so annoying. It’s the people who scroll through their emails, check their Facebook page, text, tweet, or check sports scores–in their lap.
People notice this more than you think. It’s not only distracting and impolite to the speaker, but also to those around you. Also, paying attention to your messages instead of the meeting sends a signal that the people in the room are not important to you. And that’s a dangerous message if those people are clients, or have power over your job or career path.
Cell phone etiquette at work tends to suffer most during meetings. Ask staff members to respect each other, keep phones in pockets and avoid any under-the-table smartphone use.
You want to appear engaged and a team player. If you are expecting an urgent call, mention it before the meeting begins and then excuse yourself and step away when you take the call. In longer meetings, wait until a break to check emails and phone messages.
Take Personal Calls in a Private Place
It’s one thing to take a brief phone call from your spouse about your dinner reservation that night. It’s another to take an extended call that could get emotional. Before you get to the point of arguing with someone or discussing very private information, tell the caller you will call them back or excuse yourself to a private area.
Hearing someone talk loudly on a cell phone — especially about personal business — is distracting and discourteous to coworkers trying to do their jobs. It’s best to go find a private place where you can take the call, like a conference room or in rooms designated especially for this use.
Keep personal calls to a minimum so that you don’t appear unfocused to your team or your boss.
Have an Appropriate Ringtone
Whether it’s your personal cell phone or one issued by your company, a professional ring tone is important to convey a professional image of you. I know you like Rhianna’s latest hit, but try to keep your ringtone to something simple.
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. Keep your phone to the side or in a drawer and avoid checking it when speaking one on one with other members of the staff.
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.
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 and communication.
For more information about personnel policies that can help managers to control cell phone use in the workplace call HR Strategy Group today at 505.8723 or find us on the web at www.hrstategygroup.com.
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