Managing cell phone use in the workplace


Looking at your smartphone has become a habitual, ingrained aspect of everyday life. This can be a cause of significant distraction for employees and affect productivity.

One study showed that 55% of distractions in the workplace are caused by cellphones, and there is a 28% increase in mistakes after an employee gets a phone call. As a manager, dealing with personal cell phone use can be difficult due to their habitual and ubiquitous nature.

Having a cell phone policy pinned up on notice boards or added in the staff newsletter every now and then is a great way to remind employees of cell phone rules they should follow. You can include the disciplinary repercussions of violating policy terms, such as a warning, a final warning and a ban.

You can also emphasise areas of work where cell phones are completely prohibited, which typically include:

  • During meetings and conferences
  • When handling dangerous equipment and tools
  • While operating machinery and while driving
  • During interactions with clients

Your cell phone policy can also include regulations when cell phones are to be used, such as:

  • What times it’s okay to use a cell phone during the workday, such as during breaks
  • In what circumstances it’s acceptable to use a cell phone during work hours, such as for business calls and posting on the company’s social media
  • Where employees can store their cell phones

A cell phone can not only distract the user but also the people around them. This becomes apparent when videos are played aloud or when a phone call is being made. To minimise office disturbances, you can outline and practice cell phone etiquette with through guidelines such as:

  • Keeping phones on silent
  • Prohibiting the use of cell phone cameras for staff privacy
  • Speaking quietly when on the phone
  • Going outside or somewhere private to make a personal call

If your employees have tasks that require cell phone usage, such as making calls, posting on social media or testing apps, consider offering a company phone instead. Using a personal phone for business means that the employee can become easily distracted by personal notifications and messages while using their phone for business. Having a company phone used exclusively for work can help increase productivity and keep work and personal duties separate.


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