cell phone

What To Do When an Employee Spends Too Much Time on Their Cell Phone

Kathy Simpson

Cell phones are driving many of us to distraction—and taking a toll on productivity in the workplace. Nineteen percent of employers think their workers are productive for less than five hours a day, and more than half believe that cell phones are to blame.

Indeed, every beep, buzz and glow emanating from our personal devices are designed to lure us in while hijacking our time and disrupting our concentration. A short call or text message here or there may not harm productivity in a noticeable way, but excessive use can become a big problem. So, how can you stop employees from using cell phones at work? Do you need a cell phone policy at work? Keep reading for tips on creating a company cell phone policy and handling usage across your workplace.

Cell phone policy at work

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cell phone policy

How to Deal With Overuse of Personal Cell Phones in the Workplace

As a small business owner, it’s normal to wonder how to deal with employee cell phone use. Due to the habit-forming, ubiquitous nature of cell phones, it’s important to address their inevitable presence and intervene when your employees are loath to put their devices aside — just as you must take action with the employee who always calls in sick. Below are a few tactics to help you exert some measure of control over cell phones in your workplace.

Face the Reality

Cell phones are here to stay. This means creating a “no texting while working” policy isn’t ideal. Ninety-five percent of Americans now own a cell phone of some kind, and family-friendly employers know that even though work comes first and foremost, personal devices are vital for employees who need to check in with their children and attend to important personal matters during the day.

Unless there are safety concerns, creating a “no cell phone use at work” policy can be perceived as punitive. In fact, posting a “mobile phones not allowed in workplace” notice will likely lead to morale problems. And although blocking cellular signals within your workplace may be a tempting solution, it’s not practical. Disabling Wi-Fi can impede your own business communications, and a cell phone jammer, which can effectively shut down signals throughout your business area, is not only dangerous, it is also illegal in the U.S.

It’s better to accept cell phones as a part of modern-day work life and establish policies for their use. As long as you enforce your “cell phone use at work” policies, you should see usage settle at levels that are reasonable for your business.

Company cell phone policy

Set Limits

Chances are that you’re going to see an employee on their cellphone here and there. That’s why you’ll want to set limits or mobile phone restrictions at work depending on:

  • The nature of your business
  • Each employee’s job
  • The types of issues you’ve experienced

For example, cell phone use is typically prohibited under the following circumstances:

  • During meetings, training sessions and conferences
  • When employees are interacting with customers
  • In production areas and kitchens or while operating heavy equipment as cell phone use at work can present a safety hazard
  • While driving, except when a Bluetooth connection is available or when the driver is pulled over to the side of the road. (This is a requirement enforced by OSHA, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration, for which you are legally responsible as an employer.)

Your cell phone policy could also define:

  • When cell phone use during work hours is acceptable, such as during breaks and lunchtime
  • The frequency and length of calls permitted during working hours
  • If headsets are permitted
  • Where to store personal devices. Keeping phones out of sight, such as in a desk drawer, is an effective way to keep distractions to a minimum.
  • Appropriate use during business hours. For example, business calls and brief conversations or texts with family members may be okay, but playing games or downloading music is not.

Just make sure that the limits for your smartphone policy for employees are fair and flexible. While establishing a zero-tolerance cell phone policy isn’t the best route, you can always tighten up your policies if necessary.

personal cell phones in the workplace

Define Etiquette for Personal Cell Phones in the Workplace

Not only do cell phones distract their owners, but calls can be especially annoying to the employees sitting close to the talker. These guidelines can minimize disruptions and help keep the peace, even when employees are on their phones:

  • Set cell phones to vibrate and ringtones to silent
  • Speak quietly
  • Keep calls short
  • Take personal calls in private
  • Avoid offensive language
  • Use texting as a quick and quiet alternative to talking on the phone
  • Do not use cell phone cameras (to protect everyone’s privacy)
mobile phone restrictions at work

Put Your Cell Phone Policy in Writing

To ensure that your cell phone policy at work is understood and followed, put it in writing. You can search for a cell phone policy template online or you can create one yourself. Whichever option you choose make sure you spell out your terms in clear, unambiguous language. Be sure to include the rationale for each term you outline, such as ensuring safety or maintaining productivity.

Include the disciplinary actions that will follow if policy terms are violated. This could include multiple stages (verbal warning, written warning and final warning) and may include a cell phone ban if usage interferes with business operations and the possibility of termination if use causes an accident or violates the company’s confidentiality policy.

Require all employees to review and sign the policy, indicating that they understand the policy terms and the consequences of violations.

no texting while working

Lead by Example

If you want your employees to adopt new cell phone habits, you must be impeccable in modeling the behavior you wish to cultivate. If you’re taking personal calls or texting during meetings, your employees won’t take your cell phone policy very seriously. Be a stellar role model, and your employees will be more likely to follow suit.

Enforce Your Policy

Enforce your policy consistently and uniformly. Simply walking around the workplace can be an effective way of curbing cell phone use, but beware of overdoing it. Hovering can be perceived as micromanagement, breeding resentment among employees and ultimately backfiring.

You may need to issue daily reminders at first. If problems persist after a provisional period of time and cause workplace disruptions or a decline in productivity, it may be time for a more serious conversation with those employees whose cell phone habits are more entrenched.

employees always on cell phone

Take Disciplinary Action

When taking disciplinary action, follow the standard progression of issuing a verbal warning, written warning and final warning before terminating an employee. Document your discussions thoroughly and be as fair as possible in order to reduce the risk of legal repercussions. The Hartford’s Small Business Owner’s Playbook shares some professional HR best practices you might consider if termination becomes necessary.

Next Steps: Are you interested in learning additional ways to manage your employees more effectively but don’t have time to keep up with the latest research and trends in talent management? We’ve got you covered with the weekly Small Biz Ahead Newsletter. Sign up today and start receiving tools, insights and resources to help you run a successful business.

138 Responses to "What To Do When an Employee Spends Too Much Time on Their Cell Phone"
    • Caroline | May 18, 2022 at 2:48 pm

      In the public school, I have witnessed instructional aides and teachers with their cell phones texting all day long with breaks to do work with students. I have mentioned it to the administration but was told “this is acceptable in the modern times with technology.” I will continue to put my cell phone away and use it only as needed for emergencies during work hours.

      • Small Biz Ahead | May 19, 2022 at 8:37 am

        Thank you for sharing, Caroline!

    • Electragiants | March 9, 2022 at 4:11 am

      The article is so informative. The points which you briefly described are more important for a disciplined environment. Thanks for sharing valuable information.

      • Small Biz Ahead | March 9, 2022 at 2:02 pm

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    • Strinivasan Pillay | March 9, 2022 at 2:27 am

      We are in a vehicle servicing field, major and minor repairs to all makes of vehicles, and we have found that our mechanics are often on their cell phones on personal calls, leaving out bolt, nuts and completing the job. Vehicles are coming back because of the above.

    • KIMBERLY | February 22, 2022 at 12:22 pm

      I completely disagree with the “Top four reasons employee use their cell phone.” noted in the article. From what I’ve seen in the last 5 years at my job is (#1 -3) Social Media such as Tic Toc, Facebook, etc. (#4) Messaging. Personally I don’t see any problem with checking the weather or traffic. But, I do understand the “give an inch, take a mile” situation.

    • Nancy M. | January 30, 2022 at 1:47 pm

      Good article! Appreciate all the facts but curious to read a follow-up article on this topic with more modern solutions… Pryze is a platform that limits unwanted employee cell phone use by motivating employees with rewards. Business can’t just fire people for texting, it costs us too much to rehire and retrain etc. Pryze is out there updating outdating cell phone policies while benefiting the business with more productivity, sales, service, safety etc.

      Could you write a follow-up piece with solutions like Pryze and others?????? Thanks!

      • Small Biz Ahead | February 1, 2022 at 1:27 pm

        We will look into this, Nancy! Thank you for the comment!

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    • Jonathan Grandt | September 27, 2021 at 6:09 am

      Personal Phone usage is a simply a bad idea in the workplace while on the clock. The only time personal cellphones should be used is during a break or meal. I’ve seen too many articles suggesting that an outright ban is a bad idea, while establishing a policy regulating their use is a good idea.. look, if an employee is going to slack off, they’re going to find a way to do it. If you think your employee is slacking, deal with the situation, but there is still no actual good reason for an employee to be on their phone every time you turn a corner and find them, once again, not working. They take 20 minute bathroom breaks… they catch Pokémon and Lord knows whatever ridiculous games they’re addicted to. They’ve got work to do, and it doesn’t really matter what they’re doing on their phone, they are not being paid to be on their phone. You’re the boss. Do what you gotta do. There are actual mature people who need work, don’t let a slacker make the rules in your workplace.

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    • Rebekah Wilson | April 20, 2021 at 11:35 am

      I hate everything about the concept that you have to even have a “cell phone policy”. It just reminds us how much common sense lacks in the work place. I have often been accused of “checking my cell phone to much” and for me employers forget how much time we truly spend in the workplace, especially a employee who truly is producing results time and time again. I am a single mother of one older child with autism and another younger son, I am constantly checking my phone for camera alerts etc. for the safety of my children. This is to me a common misconception about cell phone usage. That’s where the common sense comes in, if a person is streaming music and playing games on company time absolutely action is necessary from the employer because that 100 percent lacks common sense and clearly impedes productivity.

      • Small Biz Ahead | April 21, 2021 at 11:57 am

        Thank you for sharing, Rebekah!

      • mike richmond | September 21, 2021 at 9:44 pm

        What did people do before cell phones?

    • thomas nunez | March 10, 2021 at 6:05 pm

      It is very hard for small business owners to stay open in these times. I recommend that they do not allow your employees to use their phones.

      • Small Biz Ahead | March 11, 2021 at 4:21 pm

        Thanks for sharing your insight, Thomas!

    • David Dahbura | March 6, 2021 at 12:47 am

      My accounting staff is off the charts with cell phone usage. They sit and try to get some work done in between movies and Tik Toc videos. They do not have the ability to split tasks and the mistakes they make are constant. They feel my job is to find and correct their mistakes. I can’t ban the devices because we are in retail automotive sales and their devices are used throughout the store to communicate with customers. But they should be limited in the accounting and administrative office.

      • Small Biz Ahead | March 11, 2021 at 4:30 pm

        Thank you for sharing, David!

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    • Diana C. | February 5, 2021 at 2:57 am

      Hi, I work at a liquor store and a couple of girls just got hired. They were trained but nothing was said to them about cell phones because we didn’t have a problem. These people are on their phones the entire 8 hours. One wears ear buds and can’t hear anything. Sunday is our meeting & I can’t wait to hear their answer. Something needs to be done.

      • Small Biz Ahead | February 5, 2021 at 1:05 pm

        Thanks for sharing, Diana!

    • Brian | November 16, 2020 at 3:59 pm

      For cell phone use, the topic has gone as far as me delivering suspensions and in one case going to arbitration. Cell phone use to some is an addiction… to the point that they will lose their jobs. Sadly in a unionized environment, it takes forever to let these people go.

      • Liz Macauley | November 17, 2020 at 1:31 pm

        Thank you for sharing, Brian!

    • Shah Mohammad Polash | November 15, 2020 at 10:11 pm

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      Thank you very much.

      • Liz Macauley | November 16, 2020 at 3:46 pm

        Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Roxy | November 11, 2020 at 8:02 pm

      To all business owners who have expressed their struggles here… we all feel it! You aren’t alone and maybe it is not just black and white and modern issues require modern solutions.

      Does anyone here use Pryze??? They literally solve this problem and partner with you and your business to make it work. Pryze has a team of experts that implement the new policies in a positive way so your employees actually get excited to use it then they give you the tools to hold people accountable. Pryze basically gives your employees rewards for following the rules and working better.

      It would be great to read an article here about how Pryze is changing cell phone policies becuase all we have here are negative experiences with this problem and not a solution. I own 6 restaurants and I know of 3 other local businesses that use Pryze and have seen the difference in my employees and my stores. (this is our second year on the platform).

      BTW I’m a millennial business owner and it is NOT ok to be scrolling on social media while on the clock!!! The Pryze team has been crucial for us to fix this problem without “going to war” with our employees

      • Liz Macauley | November 16, 2020 at 3:53 pm

        Thanks for sharing!

    • Kelly Em | October 21, 2020 at 10:51 pm

      We are suffering with this issue. Front line staff sit on Netflix, websites and texts much of the day. Work does not get done. As a manager, I am only here 8 hours a day and cannot monitor the staff 24hrs a day/ 7 days a week. We have sent out memos twice now saying no cell phones and staff have not obeyed. Short of installing security cameras over the office area, what is a person to do? Complicated by the fact that the “big boss” of the company spends excessive amounts of time, wasting time, on his phone/ internet. He hesitates to let me crack down hard because of his own use. Note: these are personal phones and not company phones.

    • Efren Cujas | August 19, 2020 at 6:54 pm

      It’s like you read my mind! You appear to know so much about this. A fantastic read. I’ll certainly be back.

    • Renaldo Nocum | July 10, 2020 at 2:51 pm

      Gracias por la post, te añadi a favoritos, saludos

    • VICTOR | May 26, 2020 at 12:27 pm

      My employer asks we the employees to keep our phones with him when we come to work. Can someone educate me here if that is actually right or legal constitutionally and support or back your opinion by stating a law against or for the motion

    • Shujen Yu | May 9, 2020 at 6:21 pm


      well said, and the fact “A Rational Millennial Business Owner” think only “BOOMERS” are posting are in itself a big issue, there is only good company, bad company, good employee, bad employee, productive or time wasted

      to: A Rational Millennial Business Owner/Nate

      its irrational, it call a job for a reason, you come to work, doing something you are trained to do, you focus, you work hard, you learn, you grow, do a great, “JOB”, and you love it, then you are promoted! and the big pay check you get for all your hard work, dedication allow you to spend the other 16 hours in a day, and 48 hours on the weekends on as much quality of life stuff as you want.

      you as a business owner have the responsibility to teach and guide your employee, so when they leave in 5 years not because you are closing, but because they are so good a headhunter snatch it out of your team, instead of allowing them to believe its OK to spend company time texting what taco to get for dinner, teach them the value of hard work, good work ethics are the real long term solution to having real long term quality of life

      and FYI this will never change! there will be a point soon NO business will put up paying someone 8 hours of work and get 4-1/2 hours of bad work. what i see here tells me we are heading in the right direction.

    • Russell Allen | April 27, 2020 at 8:57 am

      You are wack and being on your cell phone during company time is stealing time and is the same as stealing money

    • adam | February 28, 2020 at 9:39 am

      OMG and selfies. You cant post my workplace on your feed. You signed a thing.

    • adam | February 28, 2020 at 9:37 am

      To A Rational Millennial Business Owner

      Work IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING while you are at work. If my employees think something is more important than what they are doing they must leave. They will endanger their peers. The slacking will grow and not shrink.

      I was born in 86.

      Cool perks is a good idea, like maybe when you clock in lights can flash and little balloons will go on the screen and a little song will play. Maybe the employer will bring you sunny d and cookies. You can wear slippers and its ok if you didnt shower because fortnight was too awesome.

      The employer would happily do employer stuff if employees didnt need babysitting. thing is, babysitting is the management work that takes up employer time. and if they dont need to do that there is LOTS of stuff they need to get to. And if they have a good team and are productive and successful and earn themselves free time GREAT, they earned it and dont need hourly wage earners feeling gyped that they arent getting any personal leisure time on the company’s dime.

      Science says people need breaks. Department of labor says people need breaks. Cool. Wait, you want more? You want candy crush and a few cigarettes, and “so and so: just broke up with you via text while you were at work and now you will waste the rest of your shift? Sounds like the employer just inherited a bunch of avoidable drama.

    • Adam | February 28, 2020 at 9:06 am

      ZERO phones policy, and I can choose to enforce it or not.
      There is zero reason why employees need phones while on the clock. Have an emergency? clock out and leave.
      Why does anyone think that they deserve a job if they cant focus on it?

      NATE, it is “the rise of the millennial working class” that should care about employers requirements not the other way around. The employee has a right to not be exploited but they dont have a right to exploit their employer. If they just dont like the job they can quit.

      ANON, who said “I did not pay thousands of dollars on my education to bring value to a company that treats me like a burger flipper”. whoa dont throw shade at people who soon will make $15/hr which is more than I ever earned flippin burgers. also, your choice to pay $ to be more valuable is undermined by your rotten attitude and really entitled view of “your job”. News flash, its not your job, it belongs to the employer, who decides its value and sets expectations like it or not. know how I know its the employers job? because if you dont show up who has to do the job? the employer. further, they have more responsibility than you might realize babysitting you, and paying for the privilege. You’re expensive, dangerous, require constant monitoring, and are very ungrateful that you can feed your cat because of someone else. Try being unemployed, you can scroll instagram all day. Yeah it sucks when one person ruins it for everyone, but I think that means that one person only revealed the tip of the iceberg of a systemic problem that was successfully being perpetrated by insidious time thieves.

      I want people to be responsible, because they are more effective (its even better for THEM if they are responsible. If I teach you how though I’ll have to charge). If they have their phone they can call in an emergency. Only thing is people are not what you expect them to be, they arent their best. they will get their mind taken over by distraction. Even the best intentioned person will fail given certain workplace problems and cell phone use is easy to eliminate. And kids who have a bad attitude about that get fired, I see it as a good indicator about whether they are employable at all if they cant handle adulting. If my tactics are “draconian” and my company culture is “no fun” good, this isnt beach volleyball its work. Doing fulfilling work is by itself an end and I only want to pay people who appreciate that. I don’t want to fund unstable children, I dont want to participate in condoning any of that, lest it make the company culture an abomination that will disintegrate the company. for every person who cries about how they need someone to pay them but arent responsible with their attitude, there is another person who can follow the cell phone policy and they can have the paycheck.

      NATE, If my safe environment makes an otherwise darwinian character live on, him being upset about the cell phone policy is a price i will pay even if he never appreciates it.

    • Cindy | February 28, 2020 at 8:15 am

      As a manager of a small diner in queens .. I am at lost at this point constant use of cellphones by all and the city of ny has found a way to allow these workers more rights for being in the wrong

    • Cheryl | February 27, 2020 at 2:56 pm

      I wonder if you take away the phone, don’t they just use their watch? Next, it will be a brain implant!

    • ron buchtien | February 27, 2020 at 2:55 pm

      To A Rational Millennial Business Owner
      I am not sure what type of business you are in. If this approach works for your business then I salute you. But many of the business owners on this page have tried to be open minded about this. Only to be taken advantage of by our employees constant use of their cell phones every waking moment. Whether you agree or not. It is an addiction to many people young and old. I have learned over the years that we need to be fair but firm with what we expect out of our employee’s. And when they don’t meet the work requirements we replace them. If you have a well run company the good employees will applaud and respect you. The marginal ones. Well I hope they have a lot of storage on that cell phone to store that resume with very very long list of previous employers.

    • paul | February 27, 2020 at 1:34 pm

      Our Company has a separate page in our handbook that new hire signed, explicitly stating a NO cell phone policy at any time. School, emergency, or necessary persons can call the land line at work and staff can address the personal situation.
      instant termination 1st time offense if staff member has phone on them.
      There are phone cubicles right next to time clock with name on slot.
      it has worked perfectly for over 5 years and we have only had to terminate one employee who violated policy.

    • A Rational Millennial Business Owner | February 27, 2020 at 11:07 am

      I am reading so many comments from insanely greedy business owners. TIMES ARE CHANGING. I would bet that all of the these owners, and probably even the author, whining about employees stealing time are no younger than 45. People have lives and work is not the most important thing! Family, health (physical, mental, & spiritual), and just enjoying life are what is important and the people are uniting and realizing this, especially millennials and Gen Z… We are becoming the future, while you all are becoming the past. Luckily, things are changing and business owners are going to have no choice but to adapt because people have options today. More and more businesses are learning that you have to make people want to work at your business to be successful. Your business is NOTHING without good employees. Happy employees are good workers but if you limit and try to CONTROL everything they do then you aren’t going to get good people. PLAIN AND SIMPLE. If you want good employees offer cool perks and you will make even more money. Learn to work from an abundant mindset instead of a scarcity one. More companies now are offering things like unlimited PTO, allowing employees to bring their (well-behaved) dogs to work, allowing and TRUSTING employees to work from home, and so much more. People are NEVER productive 100% of the time for 8 hours straight per day. There is so much research on this. I am so disappointed in this article and the response of so many business owners. Also, your business will be more successful if you do YOUR work instead of watching employees on their phone on a camera. That is creepy and you are neurotic if you do that. As a culture we need to rethink the way we treat employees. They are adults and should be treated as so. I have found in my 10+ years of experience that people work the best when they feel like they are a trusted part of the team, when they know you rely on them to be able to continue to provide them with a wonderful job, when they feel like they are cared about, like their life outside of work matters. That is what motivates people to go above and beyond. Not policing their cell phone use and having millions of policies around everything. I hope all of you BOOMERS learned something from a millennial who is very much excited for a better future for ALL employees and ALL people.

    • Alex | February 27, 2020 at 10:20 am

      Suggesting that as an employer we should just have to “deal with the new reality” is ridiculous. I pay my employees to give excellent customer service and do their job – not talk on the phone. Tried it the other way, and it’s the same old “Give an inch, they’ll take a mile” situation. It’s hard enough to get younger people to work yet alone give them access to their social media machine. Cries for increase in minimum wages (now $15 in my state) but accept less production? Please. I run a retail business and feel we should respect the customer who is coming in and handing over their hard earned money to be greeted and treated with respect. I don’t think it’s right to ask employers to pay a full day’s rate for 50% productivity. We have become way too willing to move the line in the sand and just accept what it is instead of taking a stand and holding our ground. The fact that anyone thinks it is okay to allow employees to use their sell phone while they are on the clock has never run a small business and put their own finances on the line.

      • Greg | October 4, 2021 at 2:02 pm

        I totally agree. Most All employee’s have never been under the gun as a business owner. Cell phone use has gotton out of hand. If someone needed to contact you back in the day they called your place of employment even if it was an emergency. Today’s Millennials have no clue about responsibility and have the thought they are entitled to do as they please. I have a no cell policy but I do have employees whom at times stop what they’re doing and that interrupts their work. I can’t think of a single day in my younger years when an employer felt it was ok for an employee to spend 10 minutes or more chatting over the phone with a friend and not concentrate on what they’re suppose to be doing. I have an employee that started a dog sitting business and his wife runs from home to home and constantly calls him for every little thing. Does it make it right for an employee to allow their personal business to interfere with an employer who pays them to do the job they applied to do. In my opinion cell phones have harmed the public work force more than can be counted and production and performance has fallen deeply.

    • Daniel Cerqueira | February 27, 2020 at 9:21 am

      I have a simple way to solve this. I quantify the work to be done and set an acceptable time frame for it to get done. The employees know the work and the time frame to get it done. They are allowed to text and even check Facebook here and there. We get it done, have better than industry standards response time and quality of output. Although I sound like a liberal, theory Y worker biased manager, I am not. I just found what works for us.
      Read “Let my people go surfing” by Yvon Chouinard, btw…

      • Monnie | January 6, 2021 at 6:43 am

        Exactly what I’m saying! Measure job output, give people the freedom our nation stands for to manage their own time/workloads, and if they underperform, help them figure out what’s causing it. THEN, if they can’t improve, fire them. But never fire them for how much time they spend doing non-work-related tasks.

      • Rebekah Wilson | April 20, 2021 at 11:55 am

        And I bet the company and office morale is a lot better than most! Sounds realistic and responsible! Shows your employees their not just a number to you but also a human being

    • Jordan | February 19, 2020 at 12:29 am

      I’m employed in a 24hr factory with about 500 employees. When my coworker calls the plant to talk to our boss who has worked here for over 15 years and, “There’s no one by that name here.” that’s a real problem. If my family can’t call for an emergency and get ahold of me because the phone is contracted out and their training is garbage, I’m going to carry my cell.

    • Dean Smith | February 12, 2020 at 2:32 pm

      Yes fire them all that’s what I say don’t even give them a warning the warning was in the paperwork they received the day they got hired. If you see anybody on there phone piont emeaditly at the exit and say your fired. Problem solved. O what’s that nobody wants to work at your crappy company so you have to hold on to the employees you have? Ok maybe just give them a verbal warning. What is the exact data that you are using as a company to prove that people are distracted and exactly how much money are you losing? Where is data are you just guessing? Did you ever think of having a meeting to address the problems instead of blindly blaming phones. Did you know that talking to people is way more distracting than looking at your phone to change a song. What’s next a ban on talking is this Korea? In conclusion I realize that company’s can make almost any rules they want and employees can choose if they want to work there. But if a company is just automatically blaming cell phones with no real evidence than there just making people’s lives worse on purpose. It should be a person to person thing if someone is always behind on there work and always on there phone than by all means punish that lazy SOB. But don’t punish the guy that is always on time does all his work on time or even faster. Don’t punish everyone because of a couple of dumb people.

      • Robert Randolph | June 3, 2022 at 8:04 am

        I don’t think any employer list their jobs to say “we will pay you even while you look at your cell phone.” IMO, there should be no personal cell phones at your work station. I see people with their phones on their leg while sitting at their desks, do you think they might be distracted?

    • Tim | February 2, 2020 at 10:29 am

      Everyone seems to be on the same page about this employee/employer disconnect. Cell phone use to an employees is no big deal. Just a quick text or scroll thru instagram but to us business owners that means an accumulation of hundreds of hours of missed sales, lost customer connection, unfinished tasks and 28% more mistakes. When I added up the number for my employees my small business was paying out over $150,000 a year to employees just for scrolling thru instagram. This is serious to a business!
      Theres an app called Pryze. It gives your employees free stuff for not using their phone at work. It give the business owner data and productivity back. Basically my employee puts down his phone for 600+ hours in 2 months and gets a 55′ smart tv, they get so pumped, i get the work IM PAYING THEM TO DO and it only costs me $10 (for 2 months). Its been in my restaurants and stores for over 6 months and is working perfectly. I can see in real time if they use their phone and for how long. I can confidently say my employees are barely on their phones and I stress less!

    • Edward Bowmaker | February 2, 2020 at 10:22 am

      I see so many people who let their lives be controlled by these stupid cell phones. I have one, but I do not spend hours on it every day, and it does not control me, I control IT. Now as a manager/owner of this company I’m finding that if I ask people to put their phone speakers low so I don’t hear it in the common areas, then I see they are using ear buds to listen to whatever they are listening to. So now with the ear buds in place, I’m finding increased errors with their work. And it’s stupid errors, mistakes that should not be happening. It’s happening because they are distracted by the cell phone. So now I am researching the “what to do” about this. I understand people have to keep in touch with spouses and children, but they are more than welcome to use the company land line for that as long as it isn’t excessive. I think what the solution is, is to put a restriction on cell phone use. It is to only be used during designated breaks and lunch time. My employees get an hour for lunch, which they get paid for, and most of the time they just continue to work, so I may have to implement that policy where they HAVE to take an hour for lunch. And that time, along with their break time would be the time to use their phones. We have no time clock and I’d hate to install one, but maybe it’s time? These are all the things I have to think about, but you can be sure I will be implementing some kind of “policy” regarding phone usage and it will be written in the employee manual that I am updating. Once that is finished, I’ll hand one to everyone so they have a copy to read and understand. I will also ask them to sign an acknowledgement that they did read and understand it. Personally I don’t understand this fixation with the cell phone but I think it is a “youth” thing and the environment they grew up in compared with the time I grew up in. We didn’t have cell phones or portable devices, we barely had computers and we all survived. If we had an emergency and had to contact someone, we used the land line phone. But younger people think they are “entitled” to 1) a job 2) a high salary 3) communicate with whoever whenever. I’m from the old school where you have to work to get those things and prove yourself worthy of receiving them, they are not just given to you. Is this what we have to deal with from now on? I’ve walked out of stores because I would be standing there waiting to be checked out and the employee is on their phone, texting or watching/listening to something. I’ll stand there several minutes like an idiot waiting. Many times I’ve said “EXCUSE ME, CAN YOU HELP ME?” only to be given a dirty look because I interrupted them. So now, if I don’t get waited on, I’ll just say “Thanks for your help!” and will walk out. Same thing at the supermarket, the clerks are all on their phones, even the security people. I could walk out with half the store because that person is looking down paying attention to their phone and not what they are supposed to be doing. I’ve complained to the managers of these establishments but it does no good. One gas station I stopped at every day for gas or lottery tickets, whatever, and now I don’t go there at all because the clerks are always on their phone and make me wait until they are done. That’s BS in my book, so I don’t spend my hard earned money there. Maybe if enough people did that and they realized they were losing money because of their clerks and phone use, things would change but I seriously doubt it. I think it’s just the world we live in now and personally I think it stinks!

      • Monnie | January 6, 2021 at 6:33 am

        One concern I’d have with this is would you let them sit and read the employee manual on company time or expect them to read it in their personal time? Employers are always concerned about employees “stealing” company time on their phones but what about the time employers steal from their employees asking them to do things after hours? I was salaried so my employer thought they owned me 24/7. I even asked for reduced pay to work part time so I could get control of my life again and they refused, so I quit.

        As a business owner now, I don’t like thinking of employees as paid-by-the-second or even paid-by-the-hour or day/week/month, etc. Employees are paid for an output, period. They have a work package to complete. If the amount of work packages they are actually completing is low, help them figure out what’s slowing them down and work with them to improve. If they can’t find a way to improve, then fire them. Don’t fire them for “cell phone usage” fire them for underperforming.

    • Sue | December 23, 2019 at 8:24 pm

      I have been retired for 15 years. When I worked for the state of Texas in a health clinic, computer policy was that the computers were not to be used for anything but business. Cell phone use was not allowed except on breaks or during your lunch Of course that was before smart phones even.

    • C. Kruse | December 11, 2019 at 7:01 pm

      Bravo! This is excellent policy. A recent employee was upset about secured wi-fi, wore clothes with a place for the phone and felt it provided a right to use it every 10 min. The job info listed only using cell phones on breaks, she didn’t care or comply. This employee would check her phone in the middle of a task I took time to help her with. The employee could do a great job and I put up with this for several months. Unfortunately, she was too co-dependent on family and friends and it wound up with her exiting the position. People addicted to cell phones often live in a bubble where they believe lots of supportive family and friends phone calls/text/tweets will pay the bills. It is good of employers like you to set a criteria up front, leaving phones in their car, locker or other secured area are good ideas. Calls to the work landline is another one. If car manufacturers put the effort into theft-proof smart phone compartments the way clothing designers are with phone pockets – it would help to reduce phone addition with otherwise good employees while boosting on-the-job productivity.

    • rpsabq | December 11, 2019 at 8:40 am

      We’ve tried all of the self-policing methods you have mentioned but due to the inherent, addictive nature of smart phones and because how addicted a person has become to their device varies greatly from person to person, we now have a blanket policy – no cell phones at work. “Checking with children or attending to important personal matters” or even “safety” issues have been used as acceptable excuses as to why employees are permitted to be disengaged while at work. Are there times of emergency or extenuating circumstances? Of course and those can be dealt with. But we have found going “old school” to be the only solution. You need to make a personal phone call? Sure, come ask your supervisor, clock out if necessary and go into the break room and take care of your business. Children need to reach you? Give them the company phone number with your extension or the appropriate extension for someone to reach you. No cell phones at work. Period. We finally decided that if our work is to be taken truly seriously and if success is truly our goal, then personal cell phone time is no more acceptable than leaving work early. No cell phones during working hours. That’s what breaks and lunch hours are for and unfortunately we have learned that enforcing the rule is just as important as having the rule and because we do not want our managers to waste any more time on this than necessary (already we’ve lost thousands of hours and millions of dollars because of this issue) employees are immediately fired for breaking the phone rule. No chances. We’ve tried 3 strikes and warnings – all that requires time consuming paperwork and more wasted money. That’s why we suggest to all employees: just leave it in the car. You know it used to be that doing anything not company related while being paid by the company was considered stealing. We have returned to that philosophy.

    • James Hart | November 4, 2019 at 5:51 pm

      What about when cell phone use has neither a positive or negative affect on your production? All I do is take some units, put it on a shelf, plug it in, and test. Then it is hurry up and wait. I have literally nothing to do during this time for the next 10-20 minutes.

    • Wayne | October 31, 2019 at 12:10 pm

      When ever I hear the employer has to pay more (incentive) for the employee to follow a policy I scratch my head. I also never understood where that an employee has the right to ck their phone anytime they feel like it. I agree that a policy must be in place and clear and enforceable.
      I help manage a company and the abuse is overwhelming because there is no enforceable policy from the top. Employees are the companies most valuable asset but the more lax a company is the abuse seems to follow. Joes point seems harsh but I’m with ya!

    • joe | October 26, 2019 at 4:55 pm

      To Several People Here #1 if they are texting and on Phone They are Stealing From you are you Ok with that. I hear somebody say Pay them more if they put there phones away NOT. There is nothing on the Phone they need Unless there Outside Sales People. FIRE THEM please Everyone Please Fire them that way it becomes the Standard. What ever you Allow becomes Repeated. FIRE THEM.

    • Lee | September 7, 2019 at 5:44 am

      Small business owner here. Wondering if offering higher wage to those willing to put cell phones away during work hours would be a good option? Higher productivity should off set the higher wages. It also lets employees decide for themselves if cell phone use is worth a lower wage. Just trying to come up with a idea that works for all.

    • Malcolm Eric Hamilton | September 6, 2019 at 3:04 am

      You can enforce the cell phone policy all you want and fire whoever, the next person is gonna do the same thing the person you just got rid of was found doing. everybody has their cell phone on them whether you know it or not lol.

    • Raj Saraf | August 20, 2019 at 10:39 pm

      Zero tolerance to Zero cell phone use policy. Fired at first violation of the policy. Emergency calls from family only allowed to be received at office land lines.

    • Molly Stewart | August 19, 2019 at 11:44 am

      We have double authentications protocols in place for all of our essential software solutions. Each employee must have their cell phones in order to receive double-authentication codes to access our systems. It is a sticky-wicket for sure.

    • Sheena | August 17, 2019 at 2:53 pm

      I work as an admin for a company that does not have a cell phone policy – cell phones at work are an unnecessary distraction. Responding to personal calls/texts/notifications during working hours decreases production and quality of work. I see it with my coworkers and admit to it myself. I’m starting a new position elsewhere and all of my family/friends will be made aware that I will only check my phone during my breaks and I’m looking forward to this new arrangement. My work office number will be available to those who need to reach me for emergencies. I am busy enough throughout the workday without having to be filtering through personal notifications and messages.

    • Antonio Vasquez | August 15, 2019 at 10:38 pm

      I must agree that CELL PHONES have become one of, if not, the worst detraction of employees focus on
      the task at hand particularly on safety. I suggest that it’s time that the Employment Development Departments in all states be researching the matter with guidance on actions permitted by employers

    • Sarah | August 15, 2019 at 7:54 pm

      I own a small business with a warehouse. I have a firm no cell phone policy, which I explain at the start when hiring a new employee. I explain that it’s black and white, that cell phone use during working hours (except for breaks) is not permitted. Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur because every business I see seems to accept some level of personal cell phone use at work. The younger employees have the hardest time with this policy, but I am clear with them that I will and have fired for violating it.

    • Scott | August 14, 2019 at 3:55 pm

      Just to put a real-life case to this: My physician’s assistant (PA) was texting and talking to her kids while examining me. She said she had to “step out” for a few mins. She came back in and was immediately back on the phone texting. Again she left the room to make another personal call to her kids. She finally came back into the exam room and I said “Oh, so I finally have your undivided attention?”. She immediately got the point from the nasty look on her face, but the damage was done. Not only did she fail to diagnose me properly, she phoned in the wrong prescription to the pharmacy. She called in a medicine completely unrelated to why I was there, and then she lost my blood sample and couldn’t perform further testing. Cell phone distractions are real, are dangerous. Imagine if I’d picked up the (wrongly) prescribed medicine and started taking it! Who knows what could have happened. Worse of all, the PA didn’t seem to be phased at all by her mistakes. Notwithstanding the constant distraction of cell phones have greatly impeded one’s ability to remain focused on any one single task, and thereby mistakes are made at alarming rates. Thanks for the article.

      • Chloe Silverman | August 15, 2019 at 9:21 am

        Thank you for the comment, Scott!

    • Peasant | August 14, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      Your employees are “stealing from you”? Honestly, read “Nickle and Dimed”. Sadly, it is as relevant in 2019 as it was in 1998. I do not take personal calls/texts at work because I’m not 12 years old. But I am also inundated after “work hours” from my “small business owner” via email, Slack, and text.

      So sure, ban cell phones. But then do not expect your peasants…errr I mean employees to work after “business hours”. No picking up extra shifts or questions or emergencies. Clock in, clock out.

      But that’s not what you want, is it?

      You want engaged, tireless, passionate, customer-service, mission-driven Ninjas, right?…Right?????

    • LSO | August 14, 2019 at 12:07 pm

      I’m curious why neither the article nor follow-up posts have mentioned social media use – we have the biggest problem with Facebook over any other site.

      I’m also curious if any businesses have found a reward system that works – teachers have mentioned an app that earns “points” for students who don’t use their phones during the day – students “check in” at the beginning of the day and earn points for how long they don’t use their phones during the day. I’d love something like that at work – if employees had an incentive (other than a paycheck) to to pursue rather than a writeup for breaking a rule, maybe they’d be more conscious of unintentional use. I’ve heard of pocket points for students, but I think something like Flipd could be used as an incentive for employees. If they use their phones less than “x” hours from 8-5, they receive a reward of some type.

    • Pete Haskins | August 14, 2019 at 10:31 am

      I have a 12 employee manufacturing business. Radios were to loud with offensive language, headphones and cords next, then ear bubs, audio books and pod casts. It was a definite production distraction and also a safety issue. We implemented a phones in your car policy and now allow 2-15 min breaks at 10 am and 3 pm.for employees to check their phones and smoke if needed. Land lines are always available and all significant others and children are allowed to call in any time. A children and wives name list was posted and circulated to office staff so we could quickly ID the caller and find that employee immediately.

      This has been well received and everyone recognizes the reasoning. Our emphasize was to foster fairness and equality for all. Treat people like adults. Now its Texas so we built a wall rack so phones are out of hot cars.During breaks everyone grabs their phones and sits in their AC cars and checks the weather report for a drop in temperature!

      I can sympathize with all the above comments and this has worked well. We point out that the employees receive 30 min of wage free work each day so as an employer we are doing our part and expect the same.

    • Chiquita | August 14, 2019 at 10:18 am

      Well I enjoy the no-cell phones at work policy and always have in my other jobs. As an admin I have enough distractions so it is easy for me to tell family/friends that I can’t use my phone at work. You know it has cut down on a lot of non-emergency phone calls/texts. The only problem I have is when the owner texts me because I won’t see it right away. I do like to remind him that his policy says we are not allowed to use our phones during work hours (a policy that he himself completely ignores). But then he has a lot of rules in his company handbook that he blatantly does not follow himself.

    • Dee | August 14, 2019 at 9:10 am

      I’m going to echo the comments of a previous poster. Limiting usage is fine but what happens when your company uses technology that requires authentication with a cell phone? Unless you are providing company cell phones, you are going to need to have employees keep their phone with them at all times. My husband gets calls and texts on his personal cell phone from coworkers, vendors and service suppliers not only during work hours but after hours. Clearly he needs to have his phone with him and have audible alerts at all times. That means you will just have to deal with the audible alerts for weather related warnings, the text from his sister that is not important as well as the alert that the roofer will be there in 15 minutes. In addition, the security systems for both online applications as well as the door locks require a smart phone.

    • Vinnie | August 14, 2019 at 8:17 am

      There Seems to be 2 sides. The Employees see nothing wrong with using cell phones on the bosses time (it doesn’t affect their wallet). AND the employers feel the employees cell phone use is like stealing from them (which in a way it is, your getting paid while on your phone….no different than coming back from lunch late or sneaking out early).
      SOoooo! Both sides answer this….Do you get mad if you are waiting on line at a cash register and you have to wait while the cashier is talking on her phone? Especially if you are in a rush. Do you feel she is stealing your time that you could be out of the store and doing something else. How long until you get upset for waiting?

    • Mike Quayle | August 14, 2019 at 1:13 am

      I’m sorry, but one does have to wonder how we “ancients” managed to live most of our lives without cell phones. I had one employee who never cut the umbilical cord with her son. She would walk into work talking to him about nothing, receive calls and texts hourly. Topics included mowing grass, if he should buy a new truck and what’s a fair price, plans for visits and holidays. All DIRE emergencies! She no longer works for me. Oddly she was a retired school teacher and the school had a NO CELL PHONE policy. I don’t pay $15.00 hourly in a small retail business for staff to chat on the phone. This has only become “inevitable and the norm” because we have allowed it. Can’t manage without chatting with friends, cruising Facebook or texting about the weather. Then you obviously don’t need to work and won’t be working for me.
      Don’t like it? Then stay home and talk all day if you wish! But not on my dime. Period!

    • Schalk | August 14, 2019 at 12:47 am

      There are two sides of the coin. The worker that demands his rights to use his cell phone(which is a privilege and goodwill from the employer due to being human) and the employer that pays for the service of the worker. Simply put there is a contract in place where the worker deliver his service on an agreed fee at agreed hours and conditions. The employer pays accordingly, if the worker produce less than what was agreed upon the reimbursement should be accordingly. it comes down to contract deviation without permission. To all the new millennium era workers I have a question , If you are the employer would you pay for more and accept less?
      Yes I have more than one business and I often gets phone calls from my customers complaining about my field technicians abusing their cell phones on their premises. I have to act accordingly and the workers with personal control suffers as a result of individuals. There seems to be no end to control of mobile devices in the workplace.
      Yes it can be an advantage but often seems to be misused and unfair to both parties. I have attempt individual approaches to offenders and the excuses are non stop. We have also now made it part of the KPI’s and that seems to be more effective. Basically the person gets caught and signs for the offence with a verbal warning. Comes increases this comes to play. I also changed my approach to no longer attempting to keep experience but rather let people go if that seems to be more important than good self control. If any employee comes to me and alert me of personal conditions that might require him to use their cell phone during working hours we are recommending them to rather take the time off or clock out and attend to their problems as a clouded mind intervenes with safety to both them and their fellow workers. Using phones for texting or without connecting to the installed Bluetooth devices for such use in the vehicles are a dismissible offence and not negotiable.

    • Terry Goldberg | August 13, 2019 at 11:40 pm

      I have a small business, that makes daily food deliveries to our customers. Cell phone usage by my employees is not a problem, since they can’t leave work until we get all the work done, to be delivered the next day. If I was loosing money because of lower productivity, I would give an incentive that has always worked. Higher wages. I would make my business, completely, cell phone free. All emergency contact with the employees family, etc, has to come thru the company telephones, or emails, on company computers, as it was in the past. I would make this very clear at the job interview. I would also be offering higher wages then my competition, based on the amount of money I could loose, if there was a significant lose of productivity, by employees using cell phones during business hours.

      We, as business leaders, are being too lenient in handling this social addiction.

    • James Zucchero | July 31, 2019 at 12:53 pm

      I had an interesting idea presented at a training seminar. This is the 21st century and people are going to want to be on their phones. it does cost the company time and $ in the form of mistakes, but presenting a 0 tolerance usage policy is only restricting the employee, the more you restrict people then ask for favors, i.e. overtime in the form of staying late or coming in on days off etc it creates animosity. The presented idea was to designate a cell phone usage area, anyone using their device outside of this area is subject to discipline. This also illuminates who the phone usage abusers are an saves time/money/resources trying to track everyone’s usage in an quantifiable way. People who spend “too much” time in the usage area are easily identified. This is also saying its okay to use your phone we empathize and understand that life still happens while at work and doesn’t present a “we own you” while you’re on our time mentality.

    • Steven | July 25, 2019 at 7:15 am

      We found an FCC-approved product that prevents employees from using their phones while clocked in. It’s a timeclock server called “PayPhone Timekeeper” which automatically clocks out employees while they’re using their phones. It calculates paychecks with overtime minus smartphone usage. They have an app-based version and a “phone station” where employees charge their devices in a custom shelf unit and the server detects each phone plugged in. We also had a tardiness problem and this timeclock allows a custom positive reward for showing up on time every day. It has greatly improved our workplace!

    • dave | June 28, 2019 at 12:48 am

      the numbers by experts is average one hour a day of work time is stolen by the average employee on personal devices. that is ridiculously high

    • ron buchtien | June 20, 2019 at 7:30 pm

      I own a small machine shop with forty plus employees. The use of cells phones is impacting the
      productivity of my company daily. We run close tolerance low volume parts that require the employees
      attention at all times. Yet I deal with 20,000 to 40,000 a month in scrap. Granted not all is related to the cell phone usage. I have quarterly meeting with my employees to discuss quality and productivity.
      The last meeting was interrupted multiple times due to cell phones ringing or someone getting a text.
      I stopped the meetings and said fellows. The amount of cell phone interruptions in this meeting are a good example of the number of interruptions/distractions each of you are dealing with. And this is impacting our ability to deliver quality parts on time to the customer. I thought surely they would get the message. But it made no change what so ever. So I started asking individuals to please put the phone away and concentrate on your work. Only to come in the next day and they would be right back on there phone. I recognize this is the new normal in the work place. So I have tried to keep an open mind and not be overbearing. The machine shop business is an employees market due to the high level of skill required. So I have to be careful how I handle this issue. But truthfully employees in today’s market are just testing every hour of every day to see what they can get away with. I have even caught someone trying to what a religious program while entering in purchase orders for raw materials.
      I have a very successful business that I have grown to hate going in each day. Knowing what is possible and not being able to achieve due to cell phones and the lack of productivity it has caused.

    • Nate | May 28, 2019 at 12:44 pm

      Just adding my two cents…

      Yes, it may seem overbearing to have strict cell phone policies, but the recourse to this would be to have the employee pay for errors made on projects when they were distracted by the cell phone. No? Then I suggest keeping your phone tucked away during business hours. Employers are not paying employees to text their friends or significant other 100 times a day. The work force has survived 100s of years without a cell phone…you can make it through an 8-hour day. 🙂

    • Dennis Daughdrill | May 16, 2019 at 10:05 am

      I am from an age where cell phones didn’t exist . Don’t get me wrong, they can serve a good purpose but they are very often abused. In any kind production type of work where one person on a phone can stall the entire plant, they shouldn’t be allowed. I watch it all day long on my job and really irritates me, especially when someone hinders me from doing my job or creates extra work for me because they’re on the phone and not doing their job. There may not be anything on the market, I don’t know. If I had the electronic and computer knowledge I might try to develop an idea I have that would benefit employers. Things worked pretty well in the workplace before the existence of cell phones. In this spoiled, liberal world people no longer are willing to give 100% to their job. Apparently they applied for a check, not a job. Sure employees have rights, but employers also have the right to a days work for a days pay.

    • Concerned Employer | April 18, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      I’m concerned about young parents losing jobs due to cell phone culture running their lives. I grew up co-caring for 2 children (not walking distance) and somehow survived my own childhood with 2 working parents pre-cell phone era. Through it all, school and activity ‘pick-ups’, etc. were managed in advance on a calendar. ONCE I was ill and was picked up by my mom, ONCE one of the girls had a tummy ache (parents away on vacation) and my high school let me go for the day to take care of her.

      Here is a recent young parent job applicant interaction-

      EMPLOYER – I’m interested in an applicant who doesn’t use or check their phone except for breaks.
      APPLICANT -This may be an issue because I have 2 boys (in school) and need to have my phone on me and available.

      I was injured by the car of a distracted cell phone user, now disabled and require help with my house and limited personal care. Cell phones on the job distract workers, limit productivity and efficiency, promote poor employee relationships with employers and other employees. Cell noise and activity creates a frenetic energy in any workplace.

      I let go of an employee for losing around 1.5 hours out of 6 per day checking their phone, texting and going back and forth with family over minute details like ‘where did daddy put the cheetos?, ‘did you pay the electric bill honey? is grandma coming over tonight?’ also bringing internet to a crawl listening to podcasts.

      There are backups like employer landlines and a list of relatives or friends (working and non-working) for a school lock-down or other emergency.

      I understand how employers are unwilling to hand over 20-30% more pay to cell dependent employees who cannot use lunch time or breaks to manage their personal life.

      I feel for those who have grown up to insist that not having constant contact with friends, loved ones, tweets, e-mail and facebook notifications is detrimental to their well-being. Life is more rewarding if you run your electronic devices rather than letting them run you.

      I threw my cell phone away 14 years ago and have successfully managed a company, employees, travel and personal affairs well, even with a limiting disability.

      Educating others to think and act independently, in a healthy, non-addictive fashion is part of being a responsible person and parent.

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    • David | March 23, 2019 at 11:19 pm

      Unfortunately with my employees, it appears that zero tolerance will be the only effective solution. They are young and just can’t work productively with phones present. Now the issue becomes consequences. Immediate suspension seems harsh. I actually need them to work. What other options have been tried, and with what results?

    • Jerry | March 6, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      Policies and manual enforcement is all good but what about the legal aspect of enforcing the policy? How about, as part of the policy we install an app on their phone that blocks usage of unwanted apps like games and Netflix during business hours? leave communications open for family and emergencies. Is it legal to apply and enforce the policy if the employee signs and agrees to an application like this? I’m researching but can’t find anything.

    • Gene Marks | February 19, 2019 at 10:52 am

      For Maggie,

      I think because you said your company is growing rapidly then it’s time to nail down a specific cell phone policy. I bet this won’t be the last time this issue will occur and you need to have something in writing to refer to. Once you have the policy written and documented then you should distribute to all employees – so going forward everyone is on notice. If the employee you mentioned keeps up the wrong behavior you can point to the policy as a reference. Hope this helps.

    • Maggie | February 17, 2019 at 2:51 pm

      I am the manager and our company is growing at rapid rate. Up until now I have been okay with the usage of cell phones. We recently hired someone and the first day of training she was on her cell phone non stop. I really don’t think she even listened to what they were trying to teach her. Since she is new how can I be direct but be understanding since the rest of my staff is not the issue! Should I pull her aside directly or have brief team meeting about cell phones then follow up with email?

      • Kim Maitland | January 6, 2021 at 7:40 am

        In answer to your question, in my opinion as an owner/manager for over 25 years, your new employee should be in probationary period. If she’s showing her faults already then it’s time to let her know it’s not going to work and not use the cell phone as reason. It’s more due to performance. If you keep her beyond the probation period you’re saying without words to the new and old employees that her faults are acceptable. Good luck trying to fire her or anyone else later on for those same faults. We managers have a very difficult challenge these days. It’s a different world we live in but we still have a business to run and the new culture shouldn’t dictate how to run it. But we do need to be sensitive to our employees needs, so it becomes a balancing act. Good luck.

    • Rachel Simon | February 4, 2019 at 11:17 am

      but, we have a workable cell phone policy here. Employees, who are primarily on machines, ladders etc etc get annoyed when they see a team member on a cell phone instead of focusing on the job at hand.

      I feel the same way- also at the dinner table, other drivers in cars, in the theater- there are so many places where cell phone use should be monitored. On trains, planes and buses..

      It’s sad that people feel it is their given right to be on a cell phone 24/7 with no regard for their surroundings.

      • Hannah Sullivan | February 6, 2019 at 8:25 am

        Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your experience at your own work.

    • Nate | February 4, 2019 at 5:43 am

      To be fair Rachel, Darwinism always finds a way. If it weren’t phones, it’d be a sandwich, shooting rubber bands at co-workers, not tying shoelaces correctly, etc.

      With a draconian policy toward modern lifestyle, you’re employee retention is going to get the kind of employee that can’t make a reasonable judgment call about ladder safety. I think the onus here is more on hiring quality employees that have solid judgment, and systematically minimizing the ability to get claims in the first place.

      Slips trips and falls? Consider taking better care of your surfaces, implementing a safety shoe policy, and regularly doing safety stand-downs to look for an eliminate common sense safety concerns. Ladder safety? Try reducing or eliminating the need for ladders. There are probably far greater perils to your company’s insurance liability and bottom line than the existence of handsets. For the record, I’m an employee now, but I’ve held management roles at low, mid, and upper level for small and medium businesses in the past as well, so I’m not blind or unsympathetic to your words.

      Either way, good luck to you all (and everybody for that matter). The times they are a-changin’.

      • Hannah Sullivan | February 4, 2019 at 8:00 am

        Thanks for sharing, Nate!

    • Rachel Simon | February 1, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Lucky you-
      You are not responsible for Workmen’s Disability Ins.
      When an employee is talking on their call phone while climbing a ladder and falls- guess who covers the accident claim. The Employer.

      • Hannah Sullivan | February 1, 2019 at 6:15 pm

        Great point, Rachel. Thank you for sharing.

    • Nate | February 1, 2019 at 1:44 am

      Speaking as an employee, some of the comments here seem Stalinistic and overbearing to me. My employment has taken from call center jobs, to upper management, to manufacturing, and all of these places had a reasonable use policy – whether official or unofficial. If you don’t want to pay for employee downtime, you better pony up and pay for automation; humans aren’t robots, and shouldn’t be treated like industrial-era dogs.

      I’ve personally never had a major problem keeping my phone separate from my work, and doing so isn’t a major feat for me per se. What alarms me, were I to sit in an interview and be informed of a strict no tolerance phone policy, is what this speaks about your company’s culture. No thanks, good luck retaining talent with a hard approach like that. I know very talented professionals in fields that have waived better pay in lieu of better work culture, and with the rise of the millennial working class you had all better keep up with the times – or get used to spending a quarter of your year training new-hires. Sorry guys, the article has it correct. You need to reevaluate your cro-magnon ways.

      P.S.: I currently work for an employer that requires government security clearance. We deal with sensitive documentation daily. And guess what? We’ve still got our phones. And guess what else? We get our work done.

      • Hannah Sullivan | February 1, 2019 at 2:25 pm

        Thanks for sharing, Nate!

        • M T Glover | January 5, 2021 at 10:56 pm

          If you have ’employee downtime’ then someone (you or your manager or team ) is not managing your time correctly. Do something outside the scope of your position that shows you can do more. Rise to the challenge, don’t sit or stand there looking at TikTok or FB or Tinder while you are supposed to be working. Take a break and do it there and then.

      • Megan | February 3, 2021 at 5:44 pm

        I so agree! I felt almost sick reading the line that says “family-friendly employers know that even though work comes first and foremost, personal devices are vital for employees who need to check in with their children…” Work is important, of course, but it should in no way be “first and foremost” in an employee’s life. This is why I left the corporate world and started my own firm!

    • annon | January 23, 2019 at 3:35 pm

      My employer uses the walk around method, but over does it and it has created resentment in me. This happened because “one” person made a mistake. Never mind the rest of us who have been here for years with no issues. Every job is not the same. Some people work constantly with customers while others like me do not interact with customers, but rather facts and figures. I did not pay thousands of dollars on my education to bring value to a company that treats me like a burger flipper. Solution – resume up. But wait nobody here knows what to do can you train before you go? Umm, no.

    • Ginger | January 18, 2019 at 12:15 pm

      Unfortunately the majority of websites/secure portals require SMS authorization to complete log in. This opens a whole new set of problems when you need your staff to be able to access highly confidential websites/portals during the workday. Employees don’t want to use their phones for the authentication through SMS….but if a family member is texting…they jump all over their phones to respond promptly.
      This issue is a double edged sword. How do you address this issue?

    • Mel berry | January 3, 2019 at 10:41 pm

      This article was written by an inexperienced manager or owner, or other. The only valid way of fixing the cell problem is to outlaw cell phones in the workplace – have them leave the phones in the car, and use company phones and emails for wasting company time.

    • Denise Hayes-Ward | December 28, 2018 at 4:57 pm

      I have a small family restaurant,with family members working for me,how can I cut their cell phone use,its like they have no respect for the job,help anyone please,p.s. I never use my cell at work,thanks Denise.

    • DONALD WILLIAMS | December 28, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      There is no need for Cell Phones in any Office or plant by Production Personnel, (or any office/plant)
      “the I need to get a hold of Mom Dad or little boby or sally” DOES not hold any value.

      I maintain a landline for that purpose!

      If it it THAT important for you to be contacted they are MOST welcome to reach you on our landline.
      I am more than family friendly for those purposes, which can be monitored. Not for invasion of privacy purposes but just to verify it was a necessary emergency.
      But when Bobby texts “Mom what’s for dinner or we have no food” then Mommy replies and we have lost 10 minutes in a mundane argument back in forth.

    • Al MIchael Gallucci | December 28, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      That’s great advice if your employees are in sight at all times. I have a service business and 90 percent of the time my employees are in the field. I have one who I know from other employees is getting calls from his wife every 15 minutes. There is no way to track this or no how much of my time is being stolen. All I can do is pass the cost on to my customers like all the other service companies.

    • Lee Lane | December 28, 2018 at 11:31 am

      So frustrating, I agree.
      I’m a small business in USA. So many errors from my employees on their phones, and they are unacceptable time and time again so they get to pay for their mistakes after the third strike. No matter if I bring this up I can see on camera, texting and talking on their personal lines for personal stuff.

      And the mistakes are dumb, due to them texting or talking is more important than $15/hr. I need a cell zone blocker for sure!

    • Paul Doyle | December 28, 2018 at 7:30 am

      Thanks so much for this article as it provides great data and real life experiences about the problems with cell phone use in the workplace. In 2018, during our team discussions I hinted at a no cell phone policy and this article will be the reference I use for implementing it in 2019.

      • Hannah Sullivan | January 2, 2019 at 7:07 am

        Hi Paul, we appreciate your feedback. Be sure to check out some of our other articles on how to deal with certain problems in the workplace. Happy New Year!

    • John Fisher | October 24, 2018 at 5:38 am

      Well written, rather than banning cell phones from workplace, it’s better to implement a solution that allows managers or IT admin to control and set limits on cell phones using a “lockdown solution” which allows employees to access websites, apps or content that are approved by IT admin or managers. Lockdown solution does more than just managing apps or websites, users can even track the devices and set peripheral settings to use the devices in kiosk mode.

      • Hannah Sullivan | October 24, 2018 at 9:38 am

        Great feedback, John!

      • ABS | January 5, 2021 at 10:48 pm

        While cell phone hammers are not allowed, there is a phone storage bag you can use that prevents a cell phone from ringing in any area. Since implementing these for my small business with a new policy that requires them, violators receive warnings and then termination if they do not comply. I have noted a significant improvement in productivity within just a few days of using the bags and implementing the policies. Before I found the bags online, I thought about ordering Yondr pouches, like what you might get at a concert to lock phones away. However, those are very expensive and you can still hear phones ring through those pouches…

        • gary zagar | February 1, 2021 at 7:35 am

          can you go further on “bags” what brand and where do you get them. do you mean just a glad plastic sandwhich bag or something like that?

    • Tom payne | August 7, 2018 at 12:20 pm

      On the cell phone talking is one thing….
      But video games are another as well as on the web.
      This is one of those problems that will not go away.
      Remember cell phone calls in the car???
      Nobody gets tickets for this!!!!!

    • Rachel Simon | August 3, 2018 at 7:27 am

      I have a small manufacturing business. We noticed that the streaming of our employees on their devices was overloading our internet.
      It was also impossible to supervise usage.
      We now have a cell phone dock next to the time clock. Everyone has their own slot with their name. There are available cell phone chargers. All workers, including management, put their phones where all can see. We can take our phones for breaks only.
      This has simplified the supervision and illuminated the annoyance of tattletales. Although one employee tried bringing 2 phones. It was explained quickly that that kind of subterfuge was too easy to spot.

    • STEPHANIE LAWRENCE | July 31, 2018 at 3:26 pm

      We have a NO CELL ZONE office in our CLIENT FIRST office. Reasons? Productivity, yes. Total focus on important work for clients, yes. And most importantly, SAFETY AND SECURITY OF OUR CLIENTS’ INFORMATION. We have every piece of our clients’ personal information in our files and we will not risk someone taking and sending photos, for example, of that info to anyone outside of our business.
      This hard-and-fast rule is explained during interviews, as well as it’s in the Employee Manual. It is strictly forbidden to use a personal electronic device in the office. To avoid temptation to text or call or email or tweet, employees put cell phones, laptops and iPads in their lockers before work, and we enforce this rule: No personal calls, texts or emails on company time in this office. Grounds for immediate suspension or termination.
      People will abide by the rules, if they know them, if they are applied equally and if they are enforced equally.

    • David Carson | November 20, 2017 at 6:29 pm

      There is an alternative. This product allows “whitelisting” of authorized cell phones and treats all other cell phones as unauthorized. The unauthorized cell phones will not work/connect while they are inside the control zone. Once they exit that zone (say, the mfg building) the cell phones are once again operational. Only cell phones are affected. Available everywhere except the USA due to FCC not yet approved.

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