If your employees are using cell phones during work time, it's best practice to create a company cell phone policy to help guide them in what is acceptable and unacceptable. Whether you currently have issues with people using phones too much on work time or you want to head it off before it becomes an issue, creating a cell phone policy at work will help establish appropriate boundaries.
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Why do you need a cell phone policy in your workplace?
A cell phone policy is a document that guides the usage of cell phones within your workplace. It can cover both company issued cell phones and the use of private cell phones on company time. By creating a cell phone policy, your employees will be able to understand what is expected of them when using cell phones at work.
There are several reasons why you should consider having a cell phone policy in place in your organization:
- Safety – there are times when employees should not be using a cell phone, such as operating machinery or when driving.
- Productivity – excessive cell phone use, particularly for personal reasons, can affect employees’ productivity levels.
- Customer service – particularly in client-facing roles, employees who are engrossed in their cell phones can give a poor impression to customers and fail to provide appropriate service.
- Security – there can be issues when employees are using company phones for personal activities which could lead to security breaches of company data.
Issues to consider in creating a cell phone policy
The reality is cell phones are a major part of life for people today. While some employers would prefer to ban personal mobile phone use entirely in the workplace, the reality is that a more balanced approach is probably needed.
Problems with implementing a strict no cell phone policy include:
- Employees who have responsibilities in their personal lives (children, sick family members etc) often need to be contactable during work hours
- The “Great Resignation” has shown that people want more work-life balance. If you deny this flexibility, you can lose good people.
- Many employees use their personal cell phones for tasks related to their work. For example taking photographs, keeping calendars, using productivity apps, storing contacts, communicating with colleagues who are out of the office etc.
- Cell phones can help to facilitate internal communication, particularly for non-desk workers. By banning mobile phones you can create problems with information sharing in your organization and alienate your frontline staff.
How to create a cell phone policy
When creating a cell phone policy for your organization you should be guided by the answers to the following questions:
- Does the company provide the phones?
- If the company provides the phones and pays the bills, do you have rules about using the phones for personal calls?
- Do your employees currently use their personal cell phones for work purposes?
- Do you expect your employees to be contactable at all times on their phones?
- Do your employees work remotely some or part of the time?
- Are there safety issues to factor into employee cell phone use at work?
Your policy creation should also follow these corporate cell phone policy best practices:
If you have opted for a no cell phone use at work policy it must address:
- Whether phones are allowed in the workplace at all or if they must be left in a locker or drawer
- Phones being switched off during office hours
If your company provides phones to employees your policy will need to address:
- What happens to the phone if it is damaged or lost
- What employees are allowed to use the phone for (eg: if social media apps are banned)
- The return of the phone at the conclusion of the employee’s employment
- If personal calls are allowed at all (for example, when traveling for work)
- If you expect employees to reimburse the company for the cost of personal calls and the process for doing this.
If you have a more flexible policy for employees’ personal cell phone use in the workplace it should address:
- What is an appropriate amount of time they can spend using their phones each day
- What is an acceptable use of personal phones during work time – responding to messages and having brief conversations, for example, would usually be permitted but playing games on phones would not.
- No phones in meetings, training courses, etc.
- Whether you require phones to be kept on silentю
- Asking employees to take a common sense approach to cell phone use to remain productiveю
- Acknowledge if they need their phones for work-related tasks.
- Situations where they can’t use their phones for safety reasons.
- Acknowledge that some roles may require cell phone use more than others. For example someone in sales.
How to set out an employee cell phone policy
Now that you’ve determined what needs to be included in the policy, you need to put it together in a document. You can use the following as an employee cell phone policy template to create your own:
Purpose: A statement that sets out the reasons for your company's cell phone policy and what cell phone usage can mean for your workplace.
Expectations: A statement that outlines what you expect from your employees regarding cell phone use during work time. Include any specific requirements and steps they must follow.
Consequences: Outline what repercussions there may be if employees do not follow the company cell phone policy.
How to implement a corporate cell phone policy
Once you have a new cell phone policy and have created the appropriate documentation, it's time to implement it in the workplace.
1. Communicate the policy with your employees
When you release a new policy it is important that you bring it to employees’ attention. Use an appropriate communications channel, such as a pop-up alert sent to desktops, to be sure that the information about the new policy isn’t lost in peoples’ inboxes – email being the traditional way many companies send a cell phone usage at work memo.
2. Have employees accept and acknowledge the policy
For accountability, it is important that employees sign the policy and indicate that they understand what it means and what consequences there may be for policy violations. DeskAlerts reading acknowledgments is the same as a virtual signature and can make rolling this policy out to hundreds or thousands of staff members at once a seamless process.
3. Send regular reminders
4. Update employee handbooks
Ensure that the new cell phone policy is included with all your other important employee documentation.
5. Include it in your onboarding process
Ensure that new employees to the company are told about your cell phone policy as part of their onboarding so they don’t inadvertently violate the policy.
A cell phone policy will help to set the appropriate parameters for when and how employees can use their phones in the workplace.
How do you enforce a cell phone policy at work?
Enforce your cell phone policy fairly and evenly. If you notice that some employees are using phones more than is reasonable, you may need to enforce the disciplinary provisions of the policy.
How do you stop employees from using cell phones at work?
If you want to prevent employees from using cell phones at work you should have clear guidelines that outline what they must do with their phones (eg, turn them off, leave them in a drawer).
Are cell phones allowed in the workplace?
Cell phones are allowed in the workplace, however, some companies may not permit them to be used during company time. In other cases, cell phones should never be used when engaging in certain activities such as using heavy machinery or driving a motor vehicle.
Can I get fired for using my cell phone at work?
It is entirely possible to be fired for using a cell phone in the workplace depending on various factors such as employment laws in your jurisdiction, whether a company policy has been violated and the nature of the cell phone use at work.