There are almost 5 billion mobile phones being used every day worldwide.
That number may be shocking to some. It is, however, indicative of how communication has evolved in the last two decades and how deeply it’s integrated into our lives.
Unfortunately, the deep integration of cell phone use and need for constant contact has the possibility to cause disruption in the workplace. This mostly comes in the way of excessive phone use by employees during business hours.
If you’re an employer that needs to deal with this issue, doing so in a way that’s positive and respectful can be a balancing act. Still, in order to preserve order in the workplace, it’s important that creating a cell phone policy at work gets done.
To help you better walk the tightrope of cell phone regulation, check out these 5 tips below.
1) Understand The Problem
Cell phone usage by employees can be troublesome for effective day-to-day business operations. For example, if you’re a business that hosts customers, cell phone use by employees could distract from the service they’re providing. Cell phone use may also look unprofessional to your patrons who may then choose to take their business elsewhere.
Cell phone usage isn’t only bad for consumer-facing operations. It can also affect corporate settings. For employees being paid a salary, excessive cell phone use during business hours could constitute an abuse of company resources.
It’s important that, prior to creating a cell phone policy at work, you itemize the negative effects mobile phone usage is having on your workplace specifically. Doing this will allow you to frame a productive conversation with employees and ultimately, draft your policy in the next few steps.
2) Consider Your Company’s Culture
Upholding your company’s values should be at the center of every policy-related decision you make. Your culture is what will dictate if people want to work for you and if customers want to buy from you.
Because of the importance of culture, you’ll want to understand which cell phone restrictions are fair to creating a productive work environment and which will inhibit employee comfort which can possibly result in a turnover or resent.
For example, some employees may need access to their phone in case their child’s school needs to reach out during illness or an emergency.
Because of that, having a “phones off” policy would be overly restrictive.
Furthermore, making policy exceptions for people with kids would be discriminatory towards childless workers and could result in larger problems.
Bottom line, make sure your policy is fair to both your business and your employees. That compromise will ensure that your company stays positive from a culture standpoint. It will also ensure that broader operational issues don’t stem from your new cell phone policy at work.
3) Let The Group in On the Discussion
Cell phones are so deeply ingrained in our daily lives that many employees are unable to understand the stress using them while working causes for their company. Because of this, it’s important that you work to educate before you regulate. Doing so will help you avoid push back and keep your workplace civil.
To have a cell phone policy discussion with your employees, start by carving out some time for a meeting. During your meeting, describe the observations you’ve made in regard to excessive cell phone use. Ask if anybody else has noticed the same thing.
After talking about your observations, outline your itemized list of adverse effects cell phone use is having on business operations and why they concern you.
Finally, let employees know that you’re going to be implementing a policy but want to make sure that it’s inclusive of their input. At that point, you can let people express their feelings on what they feel would be fair.
This openness around policy creation will make regulation feel less like an assault and more like a group decision.
4) Create Your Policy
You’ve identified your problems, you’ve considered your culture, you’ve talked to employees – now it’s time to create your cell phone policy at work.
Do your best to consider information gathered from each of the previous steps during this process. Don’t be afraid though to disagree with ideas you don’t feel will work.
To help you form your policy, below are some boilerplate policy suggestions commonly used in workplaces:
- Personal phone calls that are non-emergencies should be taken during lunch and break periods.
- Phone calls taken during work hours should get handled in a way that doesn’t disturb peers. These calls should not contain work inappropriate language.
- Lengthy phone calls are not tolerated. If an employee needs to take a lengthy call permission needs to come from a manager.
- Phones should be set on low or on vibrate so not to disturb fellow employees or customers.
- Texting in the workplace should only happen during break periods.
- Cell phone cameras are prohibited from use in the workplace to protect fellow employees, customers, and company privacy.
Those points are again, just suggestions. Only you know your unique problems and situation at work and consequently, only you can come up with a policy that takes your unique factors into consideration.
5) Enforce Your Policy with Understanding and Respect
We’ll reiterate, cell phone use is an extension of the modern person. Billions of people are spending millions of hours on their devices across a variety of networks you can learn more about if you click here. Cell phone use is integrated into everything we do.
That means restricting successfully may take some time. If after you roll out a cell phone policy you notice some people are slow to adopt, pull them over in private and discuss your observations respectfully.
Let them know you’re noticing what still seems like frequent phone use and ask why that’s occurring. Let them know you understand it can be difficult to follow the policy but you need their buy-in, otherwise others may start to circumvent the policy as well.
Correcting behaviors with respect will always take you further than loud, public reprimanding. This is especially true when dealing with tricky issues like cell phone work policies.
Wrapping Up Tips for Creating a Cell phone Policy at Work
Creating a cell phone policy at work can be critical to ensuring your company runs productively. Creating a policy can also have negative effects on your company culture though.
To help strike a good balance between regulation and comfort with your employees, exercise the tips listed above.
Know what your core problems are and consider your culture. Talk to your employees and consider their suggestions in your policy. Finally, enforce with respect.
Doing these things will help your cell phone policy be effective and get adopted quickly.
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