How to Discourage and Curtail Cell Phone Usage and Texting During Work Hours

These days it’s safe to say that just about every employee is bringing a cell phone to work.  This can cause quite a stir in the business world. Cell phone abuse can result in financial loss from lower production, missed deadlines, and forced overtime. Likewise, personal phone conversations can be disruptive and cell phone abuse can frustrate other employees.  On the other hand, however, it can be tough to prohibit cell phone use completely because employees may need to check in on children or attend to other important matters such as doctors or personal responsibilities.  In a world where people have become overly dependent on their phones and are lured away from their job with every beep or buzz, employers are left trying to figure out how to intervene and take appropriate measures to keep their employees engaged.  Here are a few tactics to help managers exert some measure of control over cell phone use in the workplace.

Set Limits

One way employers can combat cell phone abuse in the workplace is by setting limits.  For example, cell phone use should be prohibited during meetings, conferences, or training sessions.  Employees should also be discouraged from using cell phones during interactions with customers.  Employees should be encouraged to use common sense when making or receiving personal phone calls or texts and should refrain from social media during working hours.  For employees on the road, there should be clear guideline in place while driving in a company vehicle.  For example, employees should set their phones to voicemail while driving to decrease the risks of distracted driving.


Create a Cell Phone Policy

These cell phone limitations should be clearly listed in a company policy.  The policy should define the limits of cell phone use and address any specific concerns related to this issue.  Employers should distribute this policy to each employee and have them sign the policy.  Likewise, this policy should be posted in common areas around the office as a reminder.


Allow Times for Acceptable Cell Phone Use

It is important that businesses are realistic when creating a cell phone policy.  It’s unrealistic to expect employees to lock up their phones and not touch them until the end of the work day.  Therefore, employees should be given opportunities to use their cell phones at an acceptable time.  Employees should be encouraged to make personal phone calls during breaks or lunch time.  It would also be acceptable for employees to use cell phones in emergency situations or if special accommodations are needed, such as if they have a sick child at home.


Place Phones Out of Sight

Employers should encourage employees to put their phones in a desk drawer during business hours.   They should also require them to turn their phones to silent or vibrate in the office.  When these personal devices are stored out of sight, it can be an effective way to keep distractions to a minimum.


Some Things are Off Limits

Situations arise and there will always be times when employees might need to make a phone call or respond to a text, but certain aspects of personal devices should clearly be off limits.  This includes social media, playing games, downloading music, or taking pictures.


Lead by Example

If you want your employees to follow company policy on cell phone usage, you must be an impeccable model.  If you are taking personal calls or texting during meetings, your employees are likely to follow suit.  If you want your employees to take your policy seriously, you need to model that good behavior yourself.