The use of cell phones during work hours is a complicated issue involving a lot of give-and-take. Smartphones have become such an integrated part of everyday life that the average person checks their phone once every 12 minutes. It doesn’t help that a smartphone is a literal circus in your pocket, enabling access to social media platforms, games, apps, text messages, and even inappropriate content.
All that considered, it would make sense that you would want a mobile phone policy that prohibits personal devices like smartphones at work entirely, right?
That would be the case, but the issue isn’t so clear-cut.
That’s because there are countless ways employees can use mobile devices for legitimate business purposes. For instance, most modern business applications (CRMs, project management tools, etc.) have mobile versions — enabling your team to perform business functions on the go.
These features are invaluable for sales teams and can boost productivity in general, which is why many companies choose to implement company-issued phones and tablets. In fact, 62% of U.S. workers agree that mobile devices help them stay productive on the job.
Additionally, there are other times when personal mobile phone use is acceptable at work, such as during breaks or to send important messages to coworkers. That’s why creating a detailed company cell phone policy is a necessity for organizations of all sizes.
Keep reading to discover the top considerations you need to make when developing a mobile phone policy for your work environment.
What do mobile phone policies help you avoid?
If you don’t enact an employee cell phone policy, you’re putting your organization in jeopardy. While the thought of an employee checking social media a few times a day may seem harmless, momentary distractions are only the tip of the iceberg.
Here’s a glimpse at what can happen if you don’t create a mobile phone policy for your organization.
If your employees are able to use their personal cell phones carte blanche, it can lead to some serious safety hazards. For example, if your employees use company vehicles during business hours, using their personal or company-issued phones while driving is a huge risk. The same is true if your team has to operate heavy machinery.
The last thing you want is for one of your employees to get into an accident because they were texting while driving or making a personal call while operating machinery. As such, your mobile phone policy needs to include strict rules regarding cell phone usage while driving or operating machinery, as well as disciplinary actions you’ll take if the policy is violated.
Let’s say one of your employees is using their company-issued smartphone for personal use. They’re bored, so they decide to briefly browse the web on their company phone, which uses your organization’s internet connection. They accidentally navigate to an unsecured site, which leads to a security breach of your company’s data.
This hypothetical example is all too common, which is why you need a strict mobile phone policy prohibiting all personal use of the company’s internet connection and data.
Poor customer service
All staff members in client-facing roles should refrain from using personal phones during the workday. That’s because nothing makes a poor first impression on a customer than an employee with their head buried in their phone instead of interacting with them.
Without a work policy regarding mobile phone usage, your customer service scores will likely need some improvement.
It’s next to impossible for your employees to perform at their full potential if they can pull out their personal phones whenever they want. As stated previously, the average person can’t resist the urge to check their phone for longer than 12 minutes.
While a quick glance at a phone may not seem like much, it rarely ever ends at just that. Instead, people spiral on social media (AKA doom-scrolling), text family members, check voicemails, and may even make personal calls.
What to consider before writing a mobile phone policy
While company cell phone policies are undoubtedly necessary, banning the use of cell phones outright isn’t the way to go. That’s because there are lots of exceptions and considerations you need to make before putting together your policy.
Here are the top considerations you’ll need to make regarding smartphone use at work.
Employees with children/sick family members
Your team members that have small children or sick/elderly family members at home will often need to be contactable at all times, even during work hours. That means they’ll need access to their personal phones, albeit only to answer emergency phone calls.
It’s crucial to note that these exceptions don’t make the employees exempt from the other rules in your cell phone policy, such as prohibiting texting, social media, and games during work hours.
A healthy work/life balance
Modern employees are adamant about maintaining a desirable work/life balance, as evidenced by the prevalence of remote work and The Great Resignation. That means you’ll have a hard time recruiting top talent if you have a super strict cell phone policy, such as locking up employees’ phones at the beginning of the day.
Ideally, you’ll want to strike a balance between enforcing the rules and allowing some leeway to provide your staff with some freedom (i.e., allowing cell phone usage during breaks and briefly during the workday).
Smartphones can improve internal communication
Banning mobile phones in your workplace can actually have an adverse effect on your productivity and communication. That’s because smartphones are so efficient at reaching others, especially employees that aren’t tied down to a desk.
If you aren’t sure where one of your salespeople is, but you need to tell them something important, there’s no easier way to get a hold of them than calling their personal phone. Thus, it’s a good idea to allow smartphone use at work if it’s to contact coworkers.
Mobile devices can improve productivity
Lastly, there are many ways employees can use their phones and tablets to boost productivity, not hinder it. Project management apps, CRM tools, and company email are all examples of ways your team can perform work tasks on the go.
They can also take photographs, update calendars, and email colleagues and clients straight from their phones, so an employee’s personal phone can be a powerful tool when used correctly.
6 tips for writing a mobile phone policy for your workplace
Have you been tasked with writing mobile device workplace policies for your organization? If so, you need to know what and what not to include to ensure the policy is not only effective but also lenient enough that your staff will want to go along with it.
Here are 6 useful tips for developing a cell phone policy that’ll improve productivity without sacrificing morale.
#1: Know what you want
Before setting pen to paper, you should determine what you want your mobile phone policy to achieve for your organization. Are safety concerns at the top of the list? Or are your more concerned with reducing distractions and improving productivity?
If your employees operate machinery, for example, then safety should be at the top of your priority list for your policy. Knowing what you want to get out of a mobile device policy before you start will guide the entire writing process, which is a big help.
Not only that but defining your goals early on will make it easier to explain to your staff why you’re implementing the new policy in the first place. If your mobile phone policy doesn’t have a clear purpose, then your employees may question why it even exists, making them more likely to ignore it.
#2: Make it part of your employee handbook
Once you’ve set your goals for your mobile device policy, it’s time to make it official by putting it in writing. In particular, you should include it in your employee handbook and have your team sign it to acknowledge they understand the rules.
When you start writing, include an introduction to the policy at the start that clearly states its purpose (which should be the goals you devised in step #1).
#3: Consider possible security concerns
Do your employees have access to your company’s internet connection via their work phones? If so, then you’ll definitely want to prohibit personal use of company-issued devices to prevent security breaches.
It’s also a good idea to stop employees from downloading any third-party apps on company devices for the same reason, as they can potentially lead to cyberattacks and data breaches.
Even if your team uses their personal phones, they can still cause security issues if they use your company’s Wi-Fi, such as infecting the network with malware. Moreover, all their browsing history will be associated with your company, which can be problematic if an employee views inappropriate content or downloads something illegal.
For this reason, you may want to prohibit employee access to your networks with private devices and exclusively use company-issued ones instead.
#4: Include the most important rules first
Just after the introduction, you should include a bulleted list of your most important guidelines, such as:
No cell phone usage while driving or operating machinery.
No downloading apps or browsing the company internet on private devices.
Playing games or browsing social media is prohibited during work hours.
No recording of confidential information or documents on mobile devices.
Phones must remain in silent mode during company meetings.
This will ensure that your team sees the most crucial rules first, even if they don’t take the time to read the entire policy.
#5: Outline disciplinary actions
Your employees need to know that there are consequences to violating your mobile phone policy, so you should outline the disciplinary actions involved. These punishments serve as powerful deterrents for your team not to break the rules, which is why it’s important to include them.
Disciplinary actions should range in severity depending on the violation. For instance, if an employee is caught texting more than once, they may lose their phone privileges for a week. However, if they’re caught leaking confidential company information to competitors, more severe consequences are necessary (such as termination).
#6: Don’t forget to include permissible uses
Your mobile device policy shouldn’t be all doom and gloom, though. Don’t forget to include when it’s okay for your employees to be on their phones, such as during breaks, work parties, updating schedules, when a family member is sick, or to reach out to other coworkers.
Wrapping up: Mobile phone policies at work
To summarize, smartphones have become such an integral part of our everyday lives that it’s nearly impossible to function without them. While phones have their uses in the workplace, they can become significant distractions if left unchecked.
That’s why you need to control your team’s phone addiction by implementing a clear mobile phone policy that dictates what is and isn’t allowed during work hours.