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November 6, 2013

Cell Phone Etiquette – Do You Have It?

Filed under: HR Consulting10:28 am

Have you ever sat in a meeting or a business lunch where attendees are checking their cell phones, texting, or worse yet, they excuse themselves from the meeting to take a phone call?  How do you feel when this happens?  Are you irritated or are you accepting?

Research resulting from a collaboration between Howard University and the University of Southern California published in the Business Communication Quarterly, has identified that some of the attitudes toward cell phone use vary in different demographics, such as gender and age, and is perceived to be a matter of civility.  The study reported that approximately 85% of American adults own a cellular phone.  The concentration of those owning mobile phones in Gen Y (18-29 years old) is 94%, while the study reported that Gen X (30-49 years old) is 90%.  Currently, there is very little research available regarding the social norms and acceptable use of cell phones in the workplace, which makes this study a baseline to compare future results.  Some of the findings were:

Formal Meetings at the Workplace:

  • 87% of respondents agreed that making/answering calls was rarely or never acceptable
  • Writing and sending texts or emails was also frowned upon by 84%
  • 58% reported distaste for those checking the time with their phone
  • 55% thought that it was inappropriate to excuse oneself to answer calls

Informal Offsite Luncheons:

  • 66% perceived that writing or sending texts or emails was inappropriate
  • Browsing the internet and making calls was equally unacceptable by 61%
  • 22% agreed that simply bringing a mobile phone to a meeting was not acceptable

The study found that generational differences do impact the thoughts of young professionals who are more accepting of mobile phone use during meetings and those over the age of 41, who consider such actions inappropriate.  Surprisingly, men were more accepting of mobile phone use than women during informal meetings.

Some individuals commented that the use of mobile phones during meetings was “rude, disrespectful, inconsiderate,” and made people “feel less important.”  Another interesting consideration is what one commenter said about such individuals, “[they are] missing important information which could affect the overall performance of the company.”  So, next time you have a meeting, will your phone be in attendance and if it is, will you answer or ignore?

Time to review your cell phone policy?  Contact HRN here.

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