Rules for Using Cell Phones at Work

Etiquette Tips for Using Your Phone on the Job

Who doesn't love the convenience of a cell phone? Your family and friends can reach you at any time, for any reason, no matter where you are...even at work. While that accessibility may be a great way to stay in touch with your loved ones during the day, fixating on your phone can distract you from doing your job, and it may annoy your boss or coworkers. Assuming your employer doesn't forbid you from using your cell phone at work, here are some rules you should follow:

1
Put Your Phone Away

Man with laptop opening desk drawer
amana productions inc / Getty Images

If your employer doesn't ban cell phones at work, you shouldn't use one so much that it gets in the way of doing your job. The best way to avoid temptation is to keep your phone in a desk drawer. Since your boss hasn't prohibited its use, you can check your phone occasionally to make sure you haven't missed any critical calls.

2
Turn Off Your Ringer

Man using cell phone at desk
Daniel Grill/Getty Images

Silence your ringer. If you put your phone on vibrate and have it in your pocket, it will let you know when you have a call or text without disturbing your coworkers. It will also keep your boss from knowing how many calls you get at work. 

Alternatively, you can buy a smartwatch and have it alert you to incoming calls and messages. Some activity trackers can be set to work with your phone too.

3
Use Your Cell Phone for Important Calls Only

Close up of businessman holding cell phone.
Betsie Van Der Meer / Getty Images

Should you chitchat with your friend, mom, or significant other while at work? Save those casual conversations for after work hours or your break. There are very few calls that can't wait. If the school nurse is calling to say your child is ill, you should deal with that as soon as possible. Almost any boss would be understanding about answering a call when there is a family emergency. However, if your BFF wants to talk about weekend plans, do it from home.

Inform anyone who is prone to calling you about every little thing, that you won't be able to answer. So if your dog has an accident on the rug, your child can deal with it instead of letting you know immediately. When your cousin Tilly gets engaged, your mom should share the happy news later in the day.

4
Let Voicemail Pick Up Your Calls

Businesswoman checks voice mail on mobile phone
Klaus Mellenthin / Getty Images

Instead of answering any calls immediately, you have the option of letting all of them go to voicemail. If someone is calling because of an emergency, he or she will say that in the message, and you can call back as soon as you get it. But if it isn't urgent, you can wait. The benefit of doing this is that you don't have to waste time trying to get off the phone, especially if the caller is reluctant to hang up.

5
Find a Private Place to Make Cell Phone Calls

Businessman on sidewalk looking at smartphone
Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

It's okay to make personal calls when you are on break, but if you share a workspace do it in another area. Look for a spot where no one can overhear your conversation, even if what you are discussing isn't personal. Your coworkers may not be on break, and your chatter could interrupt their workflow.

6
Don't Bring Your Cell Phone Into the Restroom ... Ever

Men using cell phone in bathroom
Peter Cade / Getty Images

Please follow this rule regardless of whether you are using your phone at work or elsewhere. Why? Well, if you must ask—you never know who is in there; the person on the other end of the line will hear bathroom sounds, e.g., toilets flushing; respect your coworkers and don't invade their privacy.

7
Don't Look at Your Cell Phone During Meetings

Using cell phone at meeting
Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

In addition to using cell phones to talk or text, they have become an essential work tool. With that in mind, this rule should read "Don't Use Your Cell Phone at Meetings If You Are Going to Use It for Anything Unrelated." Use your apps as needed—for example, to add things to your calendar or take notes.

However, while you are sitting at a meeting, do not text, check your social media news feeds, post your status, or play games. Don't bury your nose in your phone. Keep your eyes up and stay engaged. Doing anything else will be a clear signal to your boss that your mind isn't completely on the business at hand.