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by Vault Careers | December 06, 2011


We cannot escape it: cell phones have become so prevalent, that whether you use them at your job or not, they still find a way to interfere with your work day. From personal calls and important emails to Facebook status updates and a pressing need to use all your letters in Words With Friends, it’s hard to tear people away from their cell phones. But that doesn’t give people a right to abuse their phones during the work day. There is a proper way to use a cell phone at your job. 

1. Don’t ignore people. If you are in the middle of a conversation with a co-worker or your boss, it would make sense to let that phone call go to voicemail rather than have it cause a disruption. Putting that finger up, as if to say, “one minute while I take this call,” lets the person you were speaking to face-to-face know that you don’t find them as important as the person on the other end of the receiver. This makes you appear rude and might even hurt your reputation at work. Sometimes, it is more important to just turn your phone off and catch-up during lunch or another break in the day. 

2. Be silent. Why does it appear that people actually get louder when they are talking to someone on their cell phone, no matter how private the call should be? Either take the call in another room (especially if the call is liable to anger you and lead to shouting) or use your inside voice to talk to someone on your phone without the rest of the office hearing your conversation. It shows respect to your co-workers and allows them to get their job done. 

3. No one likes your ringtone. Just because you have the latest Billboard hit as your ringtone on your phone doesn’t mean everyone else wants to hear it. Birds chirping, songs playing, “Droid” squawking–these noises interfere with the continuity of the day. Don’t interrupt the flow of work. Keep it on vibrate. 

4. Meetings are not for mobile devices. Unless you are expecting an important work email that everyone knows about, don’t even bother playing with your cell phone during a company meeting. It doesn’t make you look important. In fact, using your cell phone during a meeting is rude and also makes it look like you have more important things to do than listen to important colleagues discuss important business matters. You might not get invited to a meeting again–as in, you might not be working there anymore. 

5. Don’t be too smart. Your iPhone or Droid smart phone now comes loaded with so many capabilities, you might be tempted to try them all–even during work hours. However, pretending to use your phone for work purposes when you are watching sports mishaps on YouTube or Scarface on Netflix is the equivalent of stealing company time. The same can be said for playing Angry Birds or Glass Tower. If you plan on using any of these fun apps, keep them relegated to your lunch break. And if you take your lunch break at work, make sure to use earphones so you don’t share the fun with busy co-workers who don’t have time to be distracted. 

--Jon Minners,


Filed Under: Workplace Issues
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