Wednesday, October 10, 2018
We Know We're Rude With Our Phones -- But We Don't Do Anything About It
When cellphones first made their appearance, workplace advice columnists like myself advised that bosses and co-workers became annoyed when a worker used it at work. There were several reasons: people using cellphones tended to yell into the thing; the calls were often personal and inappropriate at work; and workers on a cellphone were seen as goofing off.
When smartphones came along, it became obvious that bosses could not ban them from the workplace. Employees used their phones to do just about everything -- banning them from work would be like asking them to work with both hands tied behind their backs.
But the one thing that hasn't changed is that people are still annoying others with their phone use. They still yell into their phones. They still gab to their mothers about their gynecologist's appointment in front of everyone in the office. They still goof off on their phones instead of working.
The strangest thing about all of this: We know we're being rude and unprofessional, but we still don't stop. A recent survey finds respondents say that it's proper etiquette to put your phone away in meetings but 53% of them keep it out. Eighty percent say it's inappropriate to check a phone during a meeting, but 50% admit doing it. And 77% say they bring their phone into the bathroom at work.
Many people will claim that they need their phone in the bathroom so they don't miss important calls or texts or emails (really??), while others will say that they need their phones in meetings to do their jobs. Others will say they'd go insane if they couldn't play Candy Crush on their phones during boring presentations or they need to keep up with emails because meetings are such a drain on their day.
It's always much easier to point the "you're so rude" finger at others, when in reality we are just as guilty of not being aware of how our behavior affects others. But the numbers revealed above are concerning -- we don't need any more excuses to be uncivil to one another or hurt the productivity of others. Work is stressful enough, right?
There are some cellphone use policies that companies are using, such as those listed here. In the meantime, do a little self-policing. Don't take the phone into the bathroom (ewww) and put your phone out of sight in a meeting or lock it in your desk drawer.
You might be surprised that when you're not connected to that device, you find more time to connect with your colleagues or are better able to tap into more creative ideas without the distraction of Instagram. The best thing of all? You might get more done and get to leave work early for a change.