Smartphones are part of our daily lives, but that doesn't mean they should be a pervasive part of our professional lives.
They do have their place: They help us stay organized, connected and able to complete work on the go through email and apps. However, many employees ignore basic phone etiquette. A recent survey from the consulting firm KDM found that, while 70 percent of those surveyed agree that it's inappropriate to have their phone out during a work meeting, 53 percent do it anyway.
As a manager, this can be a touchy issue because it's difficult to know if and how often your employees are using their phones for work or personal reasons. However, it's important to draw boundaries without stifling your employees' creativity or ability to work flexibly and efficiently.
The first step to set the right tone for office smartphone use is to lead by example. You can't require your employees to put their phones away if you aren't able to do so yourself. If your employees always see you on the phone - in meetings or otherwise - they will assume that it's OK for them to have their phone out regularly at work. The same KDM study found that 20 percent of those surveyed check their phones every 20 minutes.
How often am I on my phone at work?
Do I have the habit of checking or answering my phone during meetings, even via text, if it's not an urgent matter?
What percentage of time do I spend handling personal items on my phone while at work?
If you aren't sure, track your phone use for one full week. Apple's iOS 12 operating system provides you with a chart of your phone use daily and weekly, and you can also find other apps to track your usage. Analyze how much of your time at work was spent on unnecessary items and make adjustments as needed.
Identify the issue.
If you notice that your employees are constantly checking their phones or using them during meetings, try to find out what they're doing.