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Cell Phones at Work | Should You Allow Them

It’s a BIG workplace question.

After working in the marketing department at another agency, one of my coworkers got asked by her employer to get off of her phone.

“I’m using it for work,” she replied.

They then asked what duties she was performing on it.

“Um, all of them!” she exclaimed.

In a world of increasing connectivity with devices seemingly as powerful and with quicker turnaround times on simple tasks than that of computers, phones are popping up in every workplace.

The old adage of turning it off and staring at your computer for 8 hours has came and why are some employers still weird about it?

Even more so, why are some employers who require their employees to do social media, picture taking, editing and more requiring employees to use their personal phones for business-related tasks?

Well, that answer is simple: It’s cheaper to not give them company phones and most of them are millennials, so they won’t know to complain about it.

But that’s a different article in the making.

Depending on your field, your boss may ask you to stay off of your phone during work hours, while other supervisors may not say anything at all.

I talked to one friend who used to intern at a hedge fund. While he was working, he was being monitored by security cameras. There was literally two places where he could escape to in order to respond to a text message or call: One dark corner not surveyed… and the bathroom.

But this friend wasn’t doing social media, responding to important texts and emails on his phone, or doing any type of picture taking or video editing on his phone. He was “crunching numbers” and doing things in Excel spreadsheets. He didn’t HAVE to use his phone.

I remember back in high school I worked making pizzas and twirling signs at Little Caesars. We weren’t allowed to be on our phones, but I sure remember what spots in that tiny kitchen weren’t being surveyed by cameras! It made sense for that workplace, though. I didn’t need to text my friends, post social media content, or take notes. My job was to make pizzas. The less I was on my phone, the more work I got done.

But other employers encourage their employees to do whatever means necessary during work hours to accomplish their tasks, even if it means being on their phones.

And more so, a lot of employers are OKAY with you responding to the occasional text message to a family member, or stepping out for a personal call every now and then. It’s a part of life. And the more advanced phones get, the faster you can do these things and return to normal work activities.

If your employees are in an office environment, the occasional text is probably okay. If your employees are in marketing, don’t be surprised to see them spend ¼ of their day on their phones. Should your employees just be on an assembly line putting things in boxes, they definitely don’t need to have their phones out at all.

So the simple, long drawn out answer to whether you should allow your employees to be on their phones is this: It depends.

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