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Mobile Phone Regulations in the Workplace

By: Thomas Muller - Updated: 26 Sep 2017 | comments*Discuss
Mobile Phone Regulations In The Workplace

With mobile phones such a regular distraction in our everyday lives, aren’t there rules in place to stop our electronic lifelines from interfering with our work?

Mobile Disruption

Mobile phones are a notoriously disruptive presence in the modern world. They have the power to pull irritated theatre actors out of character, keep aeroplanes grounded and to drive train passengers to despair. However, despite links between mobile use and poor productivity and bad working relations, there are no general regulations barring the use of mobile phones in the workplace.

The key exceptions are where mobile phones might pose a safety risk, such as by interfering with vital electrical equipment in hospitals and aircraft, or in potentially explosive environments, such as fuelling stations or blasting sites.

Are Mobile Phones Necessary in the Workplace?

It is thought by many that mobile phones play a vital role in keeping employees connected with important business contacts and friends and family in case of emergency, and are therefore a necessary feature in the workplace.

However recent research by the University of Surrey looking into employee attitudes towards modern technology has found that by increasing workplace stress levels mobile phones are responsible for as much harm as good. The increasing reliance on mobiles for contacting colleagues and clients, for example, adversely affects the patience of other employees and the boss.

Maintaining a harmonious and industrious workplace can be difficult at the best of times without adding into the mix the stress and anger caused by excessive and inappropriate mobile phone use.

Only 11% of the employees surveyed thought it acceptable for a mobile to be turned on during a meeting, and over 80% believed it inappropriate to read or send text messages whilst in the company of colleagues or the boss.

Company Rules and Regulations Regarding Mobile Use

Individual organisations are at liberty to impose their own rules regarding the use of mobile phones, and many have done so. This may have come as a result of security concerns -particularly in light of the recent popularity of camera phones - or just due a poor record of mobile behaviour, where the effective operations of the company has been jeopardised by the inappropriate use of mobiles.

These rules might vary from an outright ban on mobile devices to a set of company guidelines about when and where a mobile can be used and for what purpose. Guidelines might, for instance, request that all mobiles are switched to silent/vibrate mode when in the workplace and that any personal calls or texts must wait until lunch or break times.

Mobile Etiquette at Work

In the absence of a ban on mobile phones, what is clear is that a certain etiquette relating to mobile use in the workplace is needed.

Employees should be made aware that their mobile use can easily cause distraction and irritation amongst fellow colleagues and should take steps to keep intrusive effects to a bare minimum:

  • Mobile phones should be set to silent/vibrate in the work environment.
  • If it is necessary to make or answer a call then it should be done so in a private area.
  • If it is necessary to speak on the phone in the presence of others then do so in low tones.
  • Don’t interrupt colleagues by answering your mobile phone.
  • Don’t answer your mobile whilst in a meeting.
  • Ensure that you choose a ringtone that isn’t likely to drive colleagues around the bend.

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[Add a Comment]
@Josh - implanted in us, yes. I could see that actually happening. We are already so dependent upon our devices. Good points made.
Jay87 - 7-Aug-17 @ 10:30 AM
This is indeed a perplexing question, and one that there might not be a specific answer to. I help to run a call centre and the senior managers are constantly pulling their hair out on the subject of mobile phone use. There is a policy in place whereby call centre agents cannot use their personal mobiles whilst at their desks, however this is largely ignored and it seems as though staff would prefer to loose their jobs than be bereft of their mobiles. The situation is not helped by senior and lower management - the ones who enforce the injunction - being on their phones constantly. It seems that people cannot do without their mobiles. I think that the world is changing and this trend will increase until we become completely dependent on our devices. Maybe they will become implanted into us..who knows? So I think that a reasonable stance might be to start relaxing our phobias on mobile use in the workplace, if we don't some of the best and brightest in our world - who also often happen to be the most connected - might migrate to companies where there is a more relaxed approach.
Josh - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:09 PM
Use of mobile phones during work hours should be banned as it neither improve productivity nor improve social interaction
Jam - 11-Jun-17 @ 7:55 PM
I know an employer who is enforcing mobile phones to be handed in at the beginning of the day and returned at the end. Is this legal? Surely you should be allowed to use your phone on your break.
Just wondering - 12-Apr-17 @ 6:47 PM
you can call in all your workers and tell them that you do not want people to use there phones in work.
bernelda - 9-Jun-16 @ 10:06 AM
I am a warehouse manager. I had 3 persons that constantly on the mobile phones, on average May be at least 10-15 minutes a day. What can I do or how do I talk to them without too confronting? Thanks in advance for helping
Tam - 18-Jul-14 @ 1:08 PM
In our place of work we're allowed to have our mobile phones on our desk and set to silent so as not to distrupt the other office workers. However we are not allowed to make or take calls during office hours, if we need to make any calls we have to do it during break times or at lunch - I think this is how most offices work.
manager - 23-May-12 @ 10:07 AM
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