Mobile phones in the workplace are a very prominent feature nowadays and that’s only going to increase as technology continues to advance. They’re a great source of controversy because they can easily distract employees and cause them to slack off, but they can also be an important tool in the workplace. A zero-tolerance policy is no longer the ideal solution in most offices and finding the right balance for usage can be difficult, however there are definitely some things that you can do to try and keep your staff focused on their work rather than their phone.

Set a General Usage Limit

Letting your employees know that looking at their phone is acceptable can actually be better for productivity than banning it. The human brain can only focus on work for so long before concentration starts to dwindle, and it’s in those moments that taking a break and checking their phone should be considered okay. Those few minutes spent browsing social media or responding to texts can feel like a much more worthwhile break than just sitting around or distracting others from their own work, and they’ll likely return to the task at hand with more enthusiasm.

With this in mind, employees should not exploit this opportunity to go on their phone by spending an increasing amount of time on it with every break. It should be made clear to everyone beforehand what is considered acceptable, and that anyone abusing this will receive disciplinary action. This doesn’t mean you need to monitor everyone’s activity throughout the day to make sure they’re not slacking off with their phone, but if someone’s work starts to slip then it would be worth keeping an eye on them. Sometimes it’s easier to just handle it on a case-by-case basis.

Don’t Allow Misuse of Company Phones

Depending on the job, using a phone may actually be necessary for getting work done. For example, those working in social media may need to use it to make posts on apps like Instagram which you can’t upload to on a computer. For any employees that need to do this for their job, there should be a clear policy in place that the phone is only for professional use. Again, here is where keeping track on the amount of work being completed may become necessary if you feel they may be spending more time on the phone than anything else.

If the employees are provided with a company phone for this purpose it can be easier to ensure that they keep on track with their work by only having applications on there that are relevant to their job.

Ensure Etiquette when Using Phones

Quite often people need to keep their phones on them at work because they’re waiting on an important message or phone-call from someone. Things like this should be considered perfectly acceptable, however if employees are expecting to get a call during their office hours then they should make it known when they come into work. By letting their employer know, there’s no dispute over why they’re taking a personal call during work hours.

To make it easier on everyone else, these calls should also be taken outside of the office so that no-one is distracted by hearing them talking on the phone.

Other ways in which etiquette can be maintained in the office to prevent phones from causing an issue is by using headphones when music is being played, and keep any text or ringtones on silent. If you decide to allow phones to be out in the office, they shouldn’t be a hindrance to anyone around them. 

James Darvill

James is a passionate scriptwriter and reluctant poet with a talent for the dystopian. When he’s not staying up late watching the Simpsons he’s beating the world at Mario Kart, always with a glass of wine in hand.
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