When it comes to a cell phone policy, many companies keep it short and sweet – banning cell phone usage whenever employees are “on the clock.”

However, an outright ban can seem overly harsh, and if those in management are excluded from such a policy, it can seem hypocritical. Furthermore, workers may need to check in on their children or calls from healthcare providers.

Therefore, a more nuanced policy is usually the better route. Below are a few tips on how to allow employees to have access to their phones in a way that doesn’t sap their productivity.

Stay faithful to company culture and work environment demands

Like all company policies, a company’s cell phone policy can be a major indicator of the organization’s culture. Management might think of its company culture as close-knit and laid-back, but if employees are required to lock away their cell phones for the duration of their shift, it doesn’t engender the kind of company culture management has envisioned.

That’s not to say companies who want a loose corporate culture should let employees have carte blanche when it comes to cell phone use. There are certain realities of the work environment that must be acknowledged by a cell phone policy. For instance, employees who are responsible for customer service should have less access to their phones than employees who work in a back office away from customers and clients.

Common sense rules

Most cell phone policies should be founded on a few common sense rules.

Workers should make personal calls during break or lunch times as much as possible. Also, frequent or extended phone calls are not appropriate, especially when they negatively impact the worker’s productivity or bother other employees.

When staff members receive personal calls at work, they should use common sense and remain professional. For instance, workers should talk quietly and save personal or intimate details for non-work hours. Personal cell phone use, even when allowed, must never contain language that is indecent, discriminatory, or defamatory. Jokes, slurs and inappropriate comments should be unacceptable, whether a person is on the phone or not.

Workers should switch off ringers or put phones on “mute” or “vibrate” mode during training sessions, meetings when talking with clients or customers and other times when undivided attention is required. If a worker shares a workspace with others, he or she should take cell phone calls away from that workspace and in a private area.

The use of cell phone cameras during work time should be prohibited in order to protect the privacy of the company along with that of fellow workers.

Clearly communicate and enforce the policy

The most thoughtful, well-written policy won’t be completely effective if it isn’t communicated properly. Like all workplace policies, a cell phone policy ought to be conveyed as plainly and unambiguously as possible, must not discriminate against any worker or group of workers, and must be applied consistently by the company.

At Cornerstone, we work with our client companies to uphold all of their workplace policies. Please contact us today to find out how we can assist your organization.

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