Once upon a time (and this isn’t a fairy tale!) business owners didn’t have to worry about cell phone abuse in their office; in fact, they didn’t have to worry about cell phones at all! If employees needed to make a phone call they used the office phones that were found on most everyone’s desk or a “communal” phone that was in the break room. Employees “made due” with the phones that were provided by the company and while there were still instances of telephone abuse, no one had to contend with the alarms, alerts and the overall distractions that are a result of excessive cell phone use.
There’s little debate – cell phones can cause problems for the business owner. Employees that are distracted by their phones make more mistakes, miss deadlines, and are often scrambling to complete their work by the end of the workday. Coworkers can also become annoyed by the incessant personal conversations that occur in their midst.
Since everyone has a cell phone, business owners can no longer sit back and assume that their staff will police themselves. Instead, they must take definitive action so that cell phone usage doesn’t undermine productivity, quality, and morale.
The best strategy to curb cell phone abuse is to create a formal policy that employees must read and sign. The document should detail the company’s policy covering cell phone usage and be straightforward, leaving little room for any misinterpretation; including the possibility of termination.
The policy should include:
The Specific Times During the Workday When Employees Are Allowed to Use Their Phones.
In most companies, employees can use their personal cell phones during scheduled breaks, non-business meals, and emergencies. All other personal cell phone usage is usually limited to no more than 10-20 minutes per day, and never at their desks. This includes text messaging.
The Office Locations Where Employees Can Use Their Phones.
Cell phones can be used in the employee break and lunch rooms and outside on the corporate campus. Business owners may want to consider banning all cell phone conversations at the employee’s desk, especially if the workspaces are in close proximity to each other. Cell phone conversations can distract co-workers and cause tension in a department.
Additional Guidelines Include:
The responsibility for monitoring cell phone usage usually falls to team leaders and supervisors. They must document any cases of excessive usage and any problems occurring as a result of this abuse. The employee must be given a warning and remind them that if the behavior doesn’t change, the employee may not be allowed to use their personal cellphone at work except during their break and lunchtime. If the behavior continues, the employee may be terminated.
While some employees might balk at the idea of a formal policy, citing that they are responsible enough to monitor their own behavior, business owners will find that having these guidelines in place will eliminate ambiguity and help to minimize instances of cell phone abuse among employees. Remember the business owner and managers must follow through on the formal policy to keep the cell phone usage in check!
For further discussion or comments, please contact Gail L. Trugman Nikol, President Unique Business Solutions, firstname.lastname@example.org or call (516) 935-5641.