Cell phones are driving many workers to distraction. This is contributing to missed deadlines, lower production, and forced overtime. The majority of employers blame cell phones for their less productive employees.
That is true because every buzz, beep, or glow from your mobile device disrupts your concentration and hijacks your time. Checking every text message, WhatsApp, or Facebook notification or receiving short calls harms productivity in a big way.
Additionally, your personal conversations and loud cell phone ringing disrupt your colleagues and lower their morale in a noticeable way. So then, as an employer, how can you fight this tendency before it becomes a big problem?
The article will review tips on how to combat cell phone abuse at work. Let’s get started.
How to Deal with Cell Phone Abuse at Work
Face the Reality
It’s important to realize that cell phones are here to stay and have become part of people’s lives. Telling your employees not to receive calls or texts won’t work. The majority of your workers have families, and they want to check on their children or attend to some crucial personal matters during the day. Still, these employees understand that work comes first and are loyal to your company.
In view of that, creating a cell phone policy may work to some extent, but your employees may perceive it as punitive unless it’s a safety concern. In other words, the mobile phones not allowed in the office notice will be counterproductive because it raises morale problems.
Some employers have gone to the extent of blocking cellular signals in their companies, while others have disabled Wi-Fi. However, these solutions only impede your business communications because cell phone jammers can shut down signals in the entire company, which is both illegal and dangerous.
So then face reality and accept that these gadgets are part of modern work life. Next, create policies and guidelines on how your employees can use their cell phones. This will reduce their usage to a certain level reasonable for the business.
Set Cell Phone Usage Limits
Setting cell phone usage restrictions may be effective instead of a zero-tolerance cell phone policy. But establishing an approach that is fair and flexible as well as tightening it when necessary is essential when combating cell phone abuse at work.
On the other hand, the mobile phone restriction in the office may depend on factors such as:
- Each employee’s designation/role
- The nature of the business your company does
- Previous mobile phone abuse issues
The best scenarios for prohibiting the use of cell phones in the office include:
- Training sessions, meetings, and conferences
- Employees interacting with customers
- When operating heavy equipment
- When driving
Here is what you can include in your cell phone policy.
- Acceptable time to use your cell phone during office hours like lunchtime and breaks
- The length and frequency of calls permitted during office time
- How to store their personal devices to minimize distractions during working hours, i.e., inside the desk drawer
- Appropriate use of cell phones such as brief conversations or short text messages with family and business calls. This excludes downloading music, watching movies, playing online games, etc.
Define Appropriate Personal Cell Phones Etiquette
Cell phones are both distractive to their owner and the person sitting next to them because they’re forced to listen to the conversation. However, you can minimize this disruption and maintain peace in the office even others are using their phones in the following ways.
- All phones should be set on vibration mode.
- Employees should keep their calls short and speak in a low tone.
- Workers should take their personal calls in private.
- Nobody should use offensive language in the office, not even on the phone.
People shouldn’t use their cell phone cameras to take photos in the office to protect the company and everyone’s privacy. Further, the company should encourage proper cell phones etiquettes such as brief, hushed conversations and no loud ringtones.
Provide & Enforce Cell Phone Policy
Putting your cell phone policy in writing is crucial because it ensures everyone has read, understood, signed, and follows them. The document should clearly spell out the terms. It should highlight the benefits of adhering to the rules, such as maintaining productivity and ensuring safety.
Next, state the disciplinary actions that will follow when an employee violates the policy terms. This includes a verbal warning, written warning, and final warning. Other disciplinary actions can be a cell phone ban and termination.
Give each employee a copy of the policy to review and sign. This indicates that they have understood the cell phone policy and the repercussions of violating it.
Additionally, you should enforce the policy uniformly and consistently. For instance, walking around the office can help you curb cell phone use. However, you must avoid overdoing it since that will be perceived as micromanagement which can breed resentment and cause the policy to backfire. Also, you should update the policy annually in order to include recent changes in technological advances and company structures. Periodic training sessions can also help to reinforce the proper behavior that the policy sets.
Lead by Example
Employees will copy your values, so model the behavior you want them to cultivate. For instance, avoid texting and taking personal calls during meetings if you want them to take your cell phone policy seriously. Therefore strive to be a stellar role model, and your team will be more likely to copy you.
Take Disciplinary Action When Rules are Broken
The disciplinary action procedure should follow a standard procedure which comprises verbal warning, written warning, final warning, and termination. Try to be as fair as possible and document the entire discussion to avoid legal repercussions.
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