Cells phones at work

Do you have a cell phone policy for employees during working hours? If not, it might be in your interest to have one, as our resident columnist Robin Paggi explains.

Cells Phones at Work

In September, Iraq war veteran Omar Gonzalez scaled the fence, bolted across the lawn, and burst through a door at the White House before being apprehended by two secret service agents. According to a Department of Homeland Security review recently released, a Secret Service officer who was supposed to be stationed at the North Lawn with an attack dog could have stopped Gonzalez long before he reached the building. But, the officer wasn’t at his post; instead, he was sitting in his van making a personal call on his cellphone.

Evidently, some employees think that using their cellphone is more important than doing their job. Like the San Antonio bus driver that caused a wreck on Loop 410 in 2009 because of texting while driving. And, the trolley operator that caused a crash in Boston (also in 2009) because of texting, which resulted in about 50 people being injured.

The danger of employees injuring themselves and others because of the distractions caused by cellphones has led some employers, such as FedEx, to prohibit them at work. Of the ban, one FedEx employee was quoted on www.wthr.com as saying, “I think it is infringing on everyone’s right.” Obviously, this employee does not know that it is a privilege – not a right – to have a personal cellphone at work. And, employers have the right to take that privilege away.

If you are an employer who has employees who are too distracted by their phones, consider implementing a policy on cellphone use at work. The policy could include things like no cellphone use while driving or operating machinery (yes, this is obvious, but some people need to be told); only taking important calls (such as from a child’s school) while working; returning calls and texts during breaks and away from the employee’s desk or workspace; requiring phones to be set on vibrate; not using phones during meetings; and anything else you’d like to put in it. If employees can’t adhere to the policy, discipline them. If they still can’t stay off of their phones, invite them to seek employment elsewhere.

Speaking of seeking employment elsewhere, I’m willing to bet the Secret Service officer who allowed his cellphone to distract him from protecting the President will be looking for a new job soon. I hope the call he was making was worth it.

Robin Paggi is the Training Coordinator at Worklogic HR.

Robin last wrote for us about rules for holiday parties at work and before that about preventing workplace bullying.  

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