Manner Monday®: Work and Cell Phone Etiquette

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Our family is wrapping up Spring Break fun and a Boy Scout campout so I’m pulling a reader favorite from last year when Channel 4 (KFOR) in Oklahoma City asked me to weigh in on work and cell phone etiquette.  Here is the transcript from the segment:

Q: It’s been creeping up on us for years… phones are never out of sight in the workplace. Is it practical or expected to ‘put them away?’

A: When we’re working, we really need uninterrupted time for creativity to flow and to get into the zone for the project. Setting aside our smart-phone for periods of uninterrupted time is extremely beneficial. I am seeing more and more stories pop up about how much happier and productive people are who set healthy boundaries and put their devices away for periods of uninterrupted time.

Q: So let’s talk about some ground-rules for smart-phones…

A: Basic smart-phone etiquette dictates that we should give the person in front of us 100% of our attention, not the device in our hands. I call it ‘old-fashioned Face-Time’

  • During meetings or when meeting with clients, put phones away. Most all smart-phones now have automatic responses you can send to notify others ‘you’re in a meeting’ or that you will ‘call them later’.
  • Turn off the volume. Cute ring tones or songs really aren’t ‘cute’ to anyone else.
  • Old-school telephone rules still apply to our new smart-phones; no calls (texts, etc.) before 9:00am or after 9:00pm.

Q: Is it ever ok to bring your smart-phone into the office bathroom?

A: Yikes. Privacy please. It’s more than awkward when you hear a toilet flushing in the background of phone call. Consider that part of your healthy ‘uninterrupted’ time of separation from your phone. Plus, do you really want to take the chance of dropping your phone?

Q: How about the business lunch? When is it ok to answer texts while dining with someone… and should you excuse yourself from the table when taking a call?

A: During a Client lunch – your focus should be on the client. When you have your device out, your sending the signal that the other person is not as important as what might come through via your technology. If you need your device to take notes – that’s perfectly fine, just let the other person know that’s what you’re doing.

And we all know emergencies arise such as sick kids, babysitters, or even a work deadline – people understand, tell them upfront you may need to take the call, they get it. Then excuse yourself from the table and return as quickly as possible.

If you’re having lunch with your peers – a quick peek to make sure the boss isn’t texting is one thing, carrying on a separate side conversation is another.

You might try the fun game of phone stacking: everyone places his or her phone in a stack in the middle of the table, whoever touches theirs first, picks up the tab for the group.

Q: Because phones are now extensions of ourselves… how do we send a message that we’re ‘not in the office’ when we leave work? Is it ok to ignore work emails and office texts when you’ve left for the day?

A: Have conversations with coworkers and clients, set boundaries, and manage expectations. I think we’ve reached a saturation point and people are trying to do a better job of balancing family and work. It’s ok to say I’m not answering my cell phone or responding to messages after a certain time, that’s my family time. I think people respect and admire that!

Click to Tweet: Work and Cell Phone Etiquette Q&A #TechEtiquette #MannerMonday


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As always;  Thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue


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