Company Culture: Are “No Cell Phone” Policies Good for Business?

How can you, as an entrepreneur, create an adequate cell phone policy without inciting a rebellion amongst your staff? There is unfortunately no all-encompassing answer to this issue,...

If you’ve built a large team or employ a few others, then you’ve likely heard an obnoxious dog barking ringtone one too many times, observed someone texting on their phone for lengthy periods of time, or had a team member interrupt a conversation to take a personal call.

Admittedly, we are all guilty of letting technology rule our lives to some point or another. Some sleep with their blackberry on their pillow, others have a bluetooth connected to their ear every second of the day. Even at work, when we should be focused, cell phones provide an uninhibited and unmonitored escape to our social media networks, personal e-mails and texts. While we’ve come to rely on technology to enhance our communication and productivity — is it hurting our bottom line?

Have you ever thought about banning personal cell phones in your office? If you’re signing checks and concerned with workplace productivity – this may be cause for celebration. For others, working for a company that bans cell phone use may be a deal breaker.

So what is to be done? How can you create an adequate cell phone policy without inciting a rebellion amongst your staff? There is unfortunately no all-encompassing answer to this issue, but there are steps to take that can help you figure out exactly what your cell phone policy should be.


“No Cell Phone” Policy — You’re Kidding Right?

Have you given thought as to what kind of business culture you want to cultivate and the type of employees you want to attract?  Banning cellphones may seem absurd. For some, especially Gen-Y peers, being separated from your cell phone is like being separated from the world. When you’re mapping out your company vision and ideals — keep this in mind: a liberal cellphone policy may be the way to go.

That is not to say you should let all of your employees take personal calls and text on company hours, but an outright ban of cellphones will likely scare off potential hires. A great policy I have seen is the distraction rule: If it distracts other people, it should not be happening. That means loud ringtones, hour-long personal conversations and texting chimes should all be nixed. This type of policy also places a bit of trust in your team, and most will respond well to being given a little bit of freedom.


Banning Personal Cell Phones? Be Upfront About it.

Could cell phone use could be detrimental to your company? Potential clients may see your employees texting too often and take their business elsewhere, or cell phones may distract your staff from work that should be given full attention. If you enact a cell phone policy, remember to communicate it early upon hire. Even if you think it should be an unspoken understanding that personal cell phone use should be limited during office hours, your new hire may think otherwise.

A quick reminder once a new employee is chosen is a great way to make sure everyone is clear on the policy. Mention it when you review your company’s standard operating procedures. If you want to hire and keep good employees, you must clearly communicate expectations from the start.


Finding Common Ground

While a full ban on personal cell phone use may be extreme — liberal usage of  mobile devices during office hours may not be ideal either. You will likely fall somewhere in the middle — and this is a good thing.

Cell phones can distract and annoy other team members, and decrease productivity. At the same time, a quick escape now and again can do a lot to keep your employees happy. If you are going to allow personal cell phones, just be prepared to deal with the occasional complaint. On the flip side, if you do have stricter regulations on cell phone use, be prepared to deal with the occasional complaint and whistle blower.

Ultimately, being the boss, can be difficult. You are responsible for determining your inner-office culture and for keeping your place of business a “place of business.” Cell phone usage may seem insignificant, but they are an important piece of technology for a lot of people. So, when deciding on your office’s cell phone policy, don’t take the decision lightly, and remember to make whatever your final decision is as clear as possible to your new hires.

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