The Post College Professional

Constant Temptation: The Do’s and Don’ts of Phones at Work

Posted by Michelle McGuire on Aug 29, 2018

Tags: Workplace etiquette

Let’s be honest, we love our smartphones. We’re constantly checking various apps and texting to keep up with our friends and the world around us. In fact, we love them so much that we check them as much as 150 times a day. And when you have an office job, some of these times will undoubtedly be at work. So how can you find that sweet spot of still getting a little phone time in AND rocking your job? Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when dealing with constant temptation.


Use silent mode. Unless your work phone and personal phone are one and the same, your phone should be a silent presence at work. This will both distract you less and help you avoid an awkward moment of your ringtone making an appearance at a meeting. Also steer clear of having your phone on vibrate because it’s not as quiet as you think. While it may be okay in your pocket, vibrate on your desk can easily sound like a mini jet plane.

Check the policy. Peruse your employee handbook to see if there is a policy on phones at work. Believe it or not, some workplaces may prohibit phones entirely or only allow a work phone. Others may have a clear policy outlining when it’s okay to use your phone. Just make sure you do a quick scan of your policies before you find yourself accidentally breaking the rules.

Observe office norms. Don’t see a cell phone policy? For these offices, you’ll have to formulate your own guidelines by observing office norms. Take a look around at the executives and high performing coworkers. When are they using their phones and how do others react? Are they brazenly texting 24/7? Or do they keep their phones hidden because your boss looks annoyed whenever she sees one? This will help you get an idea of your office’s informal “policy.” A good starting place is to put your phone on silent, check it occasionally, have it be out of sight when not in use, and try to avoid non-work related apps.

Keep things private. Sometimes you’re going to end up answering your phone at work. It can be unavoidable to occasionally have to chat with your doctor or loved one during working hours. When these moments happen, try to keep things brief. In today’s world of open office plans, answer a call with the assumption that everyone can hear you. When it comes to texting or app notifications, turn off the notifications where you can read the entire message on your lock screen. The last thing you need is your boss looking over at your phone lighting up and seeing a text about how awful work is.




Use during meetings. Using your phone during a meeting is a double-edged sword. You could be updating your calendar with deadlines, emailing that file your boss requested, or taking notes. You could also be checking Facebook, texting your friend, or browsing Twitter. It’s hard for the other people in the meeting to tell what you’re doing and they may perceive you to be slacking off. If you do use your phone in a meeting, make sure you keep your eyes up and stay engaged with what’s going on. This will signal that you’re following along instead of possibly taking a Buzzfeed quiz.

Respond to everything. Resist responding to every call, text, and notification. Don’t be one of the 83% of millennials who open texts within 90 seconds of receiving them. It can be hard, but let your unimportant calls go to voicemail or your texts stay unanswered for more than a few minutes. This will help you stay engaged at work and you’ll have some fun things to check the next time you take a break!

Let your phone distract you. This is the final and most important rule. No matter what, just resist temptation and don’t let your phone distract you from your job. The bottom line is you don’t need to pretend you don’t have a phone, but you do need to make work your #1 priority.

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