By Angela Blue
It’s a given that our smartphones are so ingrained in our everyday lives that we keep them with us constantly. While the shift of everyone owning and relying on smartphones has evolved quickly, the unspoken etiquette of smartphone use in business settings hasn’t been so quick to catch up. Here are five tips to ensure that courtesy remains continuous in a world where technology is constantly progressing.
1. Out of sight, out of mind. When meeting one-on-one or with a small group, it’s best to leave phones off the table so no one is distracted when a text, email or phone call comes through. However, if someone is expecting a call that’s urgent, that person can alert the individual or team beforehand that they may need to excuse themselves at some point to take a call.
2. Silence is golden. This should be a given, but in a professional office setting, no one should have to listen to someone’s personal ringtone or text alert going off several times a day. Always keeping phones on silent will help contribute to a distraction-free work environment.
3. Stay in the zone. Team meetings can feel mundane during times when a topic is discussed that doesn’t involve your role or department. However, this shouldn’t be a time to check email, respond to a text or scroll through social media. Each person in the meeting should be given the same undivided attention, and when someone zones out on their phone (even if it’s under the table), it’s an obvious sign that they’re not paying attention.
4. Spell check. Some industries require a lot of travel or staying in contact beyond office hours, so reading and responding to emails on a mobile device is a must. It’s important to read over the email before sending, checking for spelling, punctuation and grammatical errors as well as auto-corrects the same as you would in an email sent from a computer. The screen may be smaller, but the capabilities are not.
5. Set the tone. Most companies don’t have written cell phone policies, and in most cases, guidelines aren’t necessary except in industries with strict security measures. While it may be unrealistic to limit employees’ cell phone use (given that many need to be contacted in case of family emergencies), it’s not impractical to state specific intentions about cell phone use in certain situations. A statement as simple as, “This meeting will be quick. Let’s leave our cell phones in our pockets,” is a friendly reminder to keep etiquette in check.