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Cell Phone Etiquette at Work
October 25, 2016

By Kristine Penning,

We’re all guilty of it. If you’re like me and you have a cell phone, you probably keep it just a short distance away from you at your desk during the workday. And it’s fine if you only glance at it from time to time, if you’re waiting for an important call, or there’s an emergency, but if it’s disturbing your work ethic, it’s a problem.

Here are 6 tips for maintaining a solid line between your job and your cell phone:

1. Unless it’s important, let it go to voicemail. I’ll never forget an incident from when I was working as a naïve intern and I received a call from a friend that didn’t normally call me my first week on the job. So I answered it, and all she wanted was to ask me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. While it was a fun phone call to get, I definitely could have let it ring and texted her “What’s up?” if I was indeed concerned. It reflected poorly on my image not only to my fellow interns who sent some glares my way but also to my supervisors down the hall. This embarrassing memory has really taught me to keep in mind professionalism when determining whether or not to take a call. Your coworkers will understand if you need to, but if you’re just going to have a conversation, it’s rude to your coworkers and distracts you from your own job.

2. Switch it to vibrate (at least). A former coworker of mine had Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” as her ringtone and it went off CONSTANTLY. It was super annoying to everyone in the office, and I always wondered what our boss was thinking. Turn your phone to vibrate if not to silent or completely off to avoid causing a disruption in the office.

3. Keep location in mind when taking a call. As mentioned above, if you need to take or make a call, choose a secluded place to do so, like your office with the door shut. Or step outside the office. Even during lunch break, your coworkers may still be working, so be courteous to those around you and try to keep out of earshot.

4. Keep Texting to a Minimum. My husband and I like to text back and forth during the day just to tell each other what’s going on, but we keep it to a 30-second conversation and make a point to tell each other when we need to get back to work. But our workplace cultures are more laid back. Use good judgment to decide whether or not texting on the job is okay or not. Texting is definitely a better alternative to actually talking on your cell phone, but it can still be a problem if a conversation lasts longer than two minutes.

5. Have a meeting? Leave it on your desk. Again, unless you’re waiting for an important call, leave your cell phone behind if you’re headed to a meeting. It sends a clear message to everyone involved that you’re not 100% focused on your work, and if it were to ring, it would disrupt the meeting.

6. Step away from the apps. Just got a notification from Facebook? Or it’s your turn on Trivia Crack? While these things should be no-brainers to just ignore, when your screen lights up, it does take your attention away for a moment and could be tempting to pick up. Try putting your phone facedown so you don’t even see notifications appear.

These cell phone etiquette guidelines should apply no matter what your work environment. If you’re on the clock, try to keep your hands and eyes away from your cell phone and stay focused on what you’re being paid to do.

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