If you've ever had a meeting interrupted by an annoying ring tone or watched an employee on deadline texting to his kid, you might have wished these handy little cell phones would go the way of the cassette tape or the typewriter. But cell phones are here to stay -- just ask the 25 percent of households that have eschewed land-line phones altogether. Don't let excessive cell phone usage kill the productivity in your office.
Write a cell phone policy. Define when and how much personal usage is acceptable. You have to balance your employees’ need to manage their complicated lives with productivity. Taking a call from a sick kid may be acceptable; spending 45 minutes counseling a friend through a painful break-up is not.
Post the cell phone policy in prominent places throughout the office. If you allow cell phone calls either for personal or work reasons, display cell phone etiquette rules as well, including turning off the ringer, stepping away from work areas to talk and speaking softly.
Review the cell phone policy with employees, and have each sign an acknowledgment that they have received and understand the policy.
Enforce the policy consistently. Address infractions quickly so employees will understand you’re serious about controlling excessive calls. Track usage on work-provided cells and have employees pay for any personal costs.
Allow for exceptions. Life has a way of happening during work hours, so keep the lines of communication open. Ask employees to let you know if they’re expecting an important call, or to explain to you after if necessary, so you’ll know they respect the policy.
Model good work habits. Sure, you might be the Head Honcho, but if you’re spending your days talking football with your cousin or texting your boyfriend, your employee is going to feel pretty resentful if she gets corrected for talking too long to her lonely aunt. You’re responsible for setting the tone of professionalism and productivity.