Stash the Phone or Crash the Meeting: The Proper Use of Technical Gadgets in the Workplace

by cindybrugge

While a teacher’s back is turned, students pull out their cell phones under their desk to play the latest game. Mom is talking, but the teenager checks a text message from a friend and replies quickly. The boss yammers on in a meeting and a harmless facebook status update doesn’t seem like that big of a deal… Let’s be honest. We’ve all been there. However, these actions are creating a big problem for us after we leave school.

In an age where technology has an ever-increasing presence on our life, many students enter the workplace without any understanding of proper technology etiquette. Young employees may know that it’s not exactly appropriate, but it doesn’t keep them from acting on the impulse to instantly gratify their technological addiction. But where do we draw the line?

I was raised in a Baptist church. If a teenager whipped out a cell phone during service for any reason, exasperated sighs and staring eyes would shame the phone back into the owner’s pocket. However, a few years back I started attending a very enthusiastic church and I was flabbergasted one Sunday to see the assistant pastor on his phone when the senior pastor was speaking.

Later when I questioned him, he said that he didn’t see any problem with using his cell phone to his benefit to take notes, quickly respond to emergencies via text message and tweet quotes from the sermon. Obviously, I was enthralled and after two years working for that church, my iPhone became my best friend. Work-related phone use was acceptable in my work environment. However, that is not normally the case.

Most employers require that employees stash the phones from 9 to 5 and consider smartphones to be a source of interruption from work.

“Employees are required as an unspoken courtesy to put their phones down, when their superior or peers are talking,” said Paul Echols, owner of Square 205. “I prefer pencil and paper to laptops and smartphones because of the lowered possibility for distraction.”

A business owner in his late 20’s, Echols runs a forward-thinking graphic design company. His office is filled with burly young men and decorated with chalkboard walls and state of the art technology, but even he can agree that cell phones are a big  no-no in the office.

So where does that leave us? Ultimately, most employers agree that a quick status update or text to a friend isn’t a big deal when seated at your desk, as long as it doesn’t interfere with your productivity. However if you’re in a meeting, regardless of the size, put your phone away! Give your full attention to the speaker. Most agree that this simple respect that goes a long way.

Best of Luck,

Cindy | Former Intern & Current Employee at Bookkeeper Girl


This is a piece from my monthly column in the Campus Pages, called Intern-al Affairs.

See the published copy by clicking here.