Managers Make Rules About Cell Phones On Breaks.

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about cell phones:

Can managers really say you can’t use your cell phones during break? They say it distracts us.

Signed, Needing To Talk

Dear Needing To Talk:

Any time you are on company property management can set rules for behavior and approved activities. Most companies will allow cell phone use during breaks and lunch as long as the phones are not used in work areas or in common areas where others gather and where the phones could be disturbing and distracting. I would imagine one or more employees has used their phones inappropriately and that has led to the rule. Here are some of the most common frustrations employees write to us about: Loud talking, taking photos, talking about co-workers either obviously or in code, distracting others because of other issues related to the call; being late back to work, spending an entire break time with the phone to the ear and unable to respond to any other communications, playing games on the phone in a way that is distracting, having a jarring ring tone that is irritating or distracting; texting as others are talking; texting in a way that makes others think their conversations are being forwarded and just the general frustration of one sided conversations being heard.

Many companies do not allow cell phones in the workplace at all, for those reasons and more. Others have severely restricted their use because of misuse. Most have the rule that if you walk outside the building and are away from co-workers,you can use your cell phone for personal calls. But if others are around you, you cannot. If you and others want to be able to use your cellphones on breaks and at lunch, perhaps you can suggest a phone area, similar to a smoking area, where everyone who wants to use their cellphone can go to talk. But, if you do that, you will have to promise to supervise each other to make sure no one stays out of work too long, or does anything else inappropriate.I hope this was helpful. Best wishes!

Tina Lewis Rowe