August 20, 2014

Small Business Advice

Establish workplace rules for cellphones

Jerry Osteryoung | 4/1/2013

Personal cellphone use is one of those issues that you must address both operationally and in your employee handbook. It is important you establish a policy that provides guidelines for use of employee-owned or personal cellphones.

Let me start by saying there are many different policies on cellphone use, and none is optimal for every business. Some businesses cannot have employees answering their personal cellphones if they are working (medical staff seeing patients, for example).

Other businesses allow their staffs to use personal cellphones, such as cases where employees are called at home to do service work.

That said, every firm must determine a cellphone use policy that works for their business and is predicated on its staff, mission and layout.

One firm I was working with had a policy that prohibited personal cell phones in the building. Employees could check on them only during breaks and at lunch.

To me, this is an onerous policy. For one thing, there are times when emergencies happen and you must allow your staff to answer their calls. Secondly, if a policy is too tough or unrealistic, staff will find ways around it no matter the consequences.

Another firm has a policy that allows employees to keep their phones on vibrate if they are expecting an emergency call, so long as they have their manager’s approval. The problem with this policy is that, by definition, emergencies are rarely planned.

Separating personal from business is even more difficult where company cellphones are used. When employees are given use of company cellphones, there just is no way to stop personal calls from happening.

The most important thing when dealing with an issue like this is treating your staff as professionals.

Clearly articulate what is accepted practice, expect them to act in a professional manner and then enforce the rules as necessary. The bottom line is that you must set up a cellphone policy that supports your company and its mission.

You can do this!

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