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How to Curb Your Employees Cell Phone Use at Work

How often each day do you check your phone? Have you ever even thought to count before? Chances are you would lose count by about noon since most of us are hyper-attached to our phones and are constantly checking to see if we have received a new phone call or text message. I know for a fact I am not the only one that does this! This is all fine and dandy when you do it on your own time, but when your employees have their fingers or ears glued to their phones all day on your time and dime, it’s no longer just fine and dandy. Cell phone usage in the workplace to the extreme results in a big loss of productivity for your company. So how can you take measures that aren’t too restricting, but work to curb your employees phone use at work?

The answer to that question is a bit tricky. You want to set boundaries for your employees, but you don’t want to be too restrictive to where they feel as though you are monitoring and being too invasive. The important thing to remember is that the majority of, if not all, people communicate with everyone through their cell phones. We make doctor’s appointments, receive important phone calls and converse with our friends and family all through cell phones. Therefore, the daily use of cell phones in the workplace is inevitable. On top of that, many people must use their cell phones to conduct their daily business. If your employees are given cell phones for work, then the monitoring of their cell phone use is a bit different. Let’s separate the two and tackle them one at a time.

So first things first: general cell phone use in the workplace. These guidelines are for the employee’s use of their own personal cell phones during business hours. The best way to set guidelines for cell use is to have a cell phone policy. If you are a smaller company and it seems as though your employees are pretty good about their cell phone use at work then you may not have to employ a cell phone policy at all. It’s important to let your employees know that you understand the use of cell phones is going to happen, but that it should not impede upon their work. If you don’t feel comfortable with how your employees are currently use their cell phones at work, then you need to ask yourself a few questions before you can start drafting up a policy. For starters, you should ask yourself this: what issues do you already face with cell phone use in your company?Is the office way too noisy? DO you constantly catch your employees attached to their phones and texting every time you pass through the office? If the answers to these questions are yes, then you clearly need to start taking action.

You should then ask yourself what kind of policy or guidelines would be good for your company and the culture you have. If your company is deep into communication where contacting and conversing with clients or customers is necessary, then you’ll definitely need to have a more lax policy. If communication with clients or customers isn’t part of your company then cell phone use shouldn’t be as prevalent. Either way, there are certain rules that should be put in place for all workers.

Vibrate
Can you work diligently if your employee’s or coworkers phone is constantly ringing? What’s worse is when they have a ringtone with their favorite song. Trust me, not everyone in the office wants to hear parts of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” every time someone tries to call. Even just a normal ring can get annoying after the third or fourth time it goes off. Same thing goes for text messages. Random “bings” and beeps throughout the day can really start to take a toll on your other employee’s nerves. Therefore, make sure everyone in your office knows that cell phones needs to be put on vibrate for the benefit of everyone in the office. It’s just common courtesy and it should be part of your policy.

Meetings
It’s not only annoying, but it’s rude in the extreme to use your cell phone to text or answer a phone call in the middle of a meeting. As an employer, you’ve probably already seen it happen. This is why you need to explicitly state that cell phone use during meetings, talks, conferences or even just meetings where you are brainstorming new ideas need to be cell phone free. Texting shouldn’t be allowed and phone calls definitely should not be answered. If it’s important, let your employees know that they should step out of the meeting to answer either texts or calls. If you want to do away with it altogether, then state that phones in meetings are off limits.

Inside Voices
You know the worker: the one that can’t seem to understand that if you speak in your normal volume on the phone, the other person can still hear you. For some reason, some cell phone users feel the need to scream into the mic of their phone. This is totally unnecessary and annoying. Make sure your employees know that if they are going to take a call while in the office, they need to speak in a low tone or step out of the office.

“Cell Phone Time”

If your employees are excessively using their cell phones on your time then you need to set specific rules as to when and where they are allowed to use their phones. Perhaps you need to set a “lunch time only” policy or a policy where they can only use their phones for a set amount of time. Set exact guidelines otherwise employees will take it upon themselves to set their times.

The most important thing for you as an employer is to decipher if whether or not setting a cell phone policy for your office is needed. If it’s not, then set ground rules ie. “must be on vibrate,” “must step out to talk” etc. If it is, then get to drafting up a hard copy of your policy and make sure it is sent throughout the whole company. However, a policy that isn’t enforced isn’t really a policy at all, is it? Make sure that each employee is held to the same standard as others and that you enforce the rules you set.

For the sake of not writing a book for this blog post, we’ll tackle tips on how to monitor and curb the use of company cell phones and extensions in a later post. We like to keep you on your toes anyways, so be sure to come back and check in for these tips as well later this week.

Ever have an issue with employee cell phone use in your office? How did you combat it? Let us know in the comments section below here or tweet me @nicole_spark.

SOURCE: Inc.
IMAGE: Courtesy of Hoover Web Design

Nicole Nicholson

Nicole is the Content Editor for Spark Hire and mainly writes for and edits the work for the Spark News blog. She graduated in 2010 with a BA in Journalism from DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois. She has a passion for writing, editing, and pretty much anything to do with content. In her free time she frequents the Chicago music scene and writes reviews on shows for her own personal blog. Connect with Nicole and Spark Hire on Facebook and Twitter