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 DisruptionMobile 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 UseIndividual 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 WorkIn 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.