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Opinion: The workplace needs smartphone etiquette

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With mobile technology becoming more prevalent than ever before, both employers and employees are left to wonder is there a time and place for smartphones in the workplace?

Approximately 68% of consumers between 18 and 38 years old think it is OK for employees to use their phone during the workday, according to a recent U.S. Cellular survey. This is not surprising given the fact the same survey showed 69% of people feel naked or anxious without their phones.

Mobile technology devices and accessories available to small to midsize businessesare helping to promote business continuity, optimize mobile workforce operations and track assets – allowing organizations to do more, save more and earn more. It allows employees to stay connected via calls, texts and emails, helps them review documents on the go and even enables them to join meetings and conference calls when out of the office. 

The business advantages are all around. Yet, employers and employees would be remiss if they didn’t acknowledge that these helpful connected devices also can be a bit distracting. The key is finding the right balance and being mindful of one’s mobile manners. Here are a few tips to keep top of mind:

  • Avoid distractions and stay present. It can be hard to pay attention in meetings or in group settings when messages and status updates are constantly being received. Be sure to silence the phone while in meetings or while working in a group. If awaiting an important call or email, be upfront about it and apologize in advance for the possibility of needing to be excused.
  • Be mindful of your co-workers. While texting and emailing has become more commonplace for communicating throughout the day – sometimes calls come in and it can be annoying to others. This rings particularly true when the volume is high, calls are accepted at inappropriate times and conversations are had on speakerphone while in the office. Instead, set the ringer to vibrate, be mindful of how loud you may be talking, consider taking calls with the door shut or in a private room and utilize wireless headphones.
  • Set a time for social media.It’s easy to open social media every few minutes and check what everyone is up to, but before you know it, 30 minutes of the day are long gone. This can cause productivity to decrease and make staying on tasks difficult.Instead, save social media for the lunch hour or during breaks to avoid getting consumed throughout the day.

With just a few ground rules and a clear understanding by employers and employees on acceptable use, the presence of smartphones in the workplace can be a real benefit for everyone involved.

Russ Cullins is the store manager for U.S. Cellular in the Springfield market.

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