Cell Phone Policy

I remember, long before I was a business attorney Tulsa, my first cell phone was a Nokia 8600 series with an interchangeable faceplate. I was, hands down, the coolest middle schooler on the planet. I remember I would take it to school with me although I could not have it turned on. I would play snake at recess when the teachers weren’t looking. I was a rebel.

The summer following my senior year of high school was when the first Apple iPhone was released. You don’t need a business attorney Tulsa to tell you that the world was no longer the same.

Did you know that today’s cell phones have more advanced computer technology than the first NASA space shuttle to land on the moon? It’s no wonder as smart phones have penetrated nearly every industry. Many devices today require you download “an app” to operate and update the advice. Even many major car brands now feature Apple car play where you can mirror you phone on your car’s screen. It’s honestly amazing, this business attorney Tulsa is a fan.

But it’s also a distraction and a sincere impact on productivity. I once worked at a law firm as a business attorney Tulsa where my boss was in his 70’s. He routinely complained about cell phones and how they have killed our productivity. He was right to some extent. Between texting, social media, dating apps, and all other forms of communication, cell phones have become a major distraction in our society.

I once saw a meme that featured a scene from the Alien movie series. You may recall in those movies that there was a creature that “hatched.” The creature would then fly at your face and wrap its tail around your throat. If you tried to remove the creature, it would tighten its tail around your throat and choke you to death. The meme I saw had a modified creature. Its body was a smartphone. Honestly, it was one of the most honest pictures depicting what is wrong with our society.

So how do you handle your employees in the modern information age? I’m not sure there is a “legal” answer to this issue. But here are a few things I have seen that have had varying degrees of success.

The first is an outright ban. I know an optometry clinic in Tulsa that does not allow its employees to have their cell phones with them while they are working. Every employee has a locker and they are required to put their cell phone in their locker. This seems a bit extreme, but honestly, its very effective. The staff interact with patients more, there are no distractions from the phones, and the family members can contact them on the work line if there is an emergency. This may be something to consider and consult a business attorney Tulsa about.

The second is a limited use policy. I once knew an insurance defense lawyer who was in-house for a major insurance company. She had a company car and a company cell phone. Somehow, her employer put technology in her car where the car would not start if she was using her phone. The phone had to be locked, with her not talking on it at all (not even through the car itself) before she could start her car. I thought this was a good approach. It made sure that she was not driving and using her phone as she had to be on the road considerably given her state-wide practice. If your company requires employees to drive, I would make every driver sign a document that he/she will not use his/her cell phone while driving the company vehicle at a minimum. Ideally, I would install similar technology to that described above. I as a business attorney Tulsa wrote a separate article on punitive damages. But honestly, driving while talking on your cell phone is now considered punitive conduct. This is why Mothers Against Drunk Driving is now Mothers Against Distracted Driving.

The third type of policy I have seen is like what some of my employers have done in the past. There was never anything in writing that I saw regarding cell phone usage. Instead, they would routinely complain (if they were having a bad day) and they saw someone using their cell phone. This is not an approach I recommend. For one, it is unprofessional, any business attorney Tulsa will tell you that. Your policies and procedures need to be in writing to protect you. And second, it harms employee morale. Hearing a supervisor constantly complain is one of the easiest ways to have a high employee turnover rate.

Regardless of what cell phone policy you choose, I can offer a few suggestions on how to implement it. First, I would carve out a section in your employee handbook regarding cell phone usage. If you already have a business attorney Tulsa written handbook, but do not have a section on cell phone usage, I would draft an addendum and have the employees sign an addendum acknowledgment.

Second, I recommend communicating this with your employees prior to them commencing employment. Let’s face it. Some people cannot be without their cell phones for an extended period of time. If you ban them, you may waste time and resources going through the hiring process only to find out an employee cannot work for you. Third, I recommend an ongoing dialogue with your employees about this policy. Sometimes, things change and as a business owner you need to be flexible with the times. When cell phones were first introduced, you could call on them. Then you could text. Now, you can send e-mails, check the weather, get on the internet, and pretty much anything you want to do. Having a flexible approach that adapts to the times is always the preferred method.

If you do not have a cell phone policy with your employees, contact the RC Law Group and a business attorney Tulsa to see what we can do to help. Having a business attorney Tulsa written cell phone policy can make termination smoother, and can help defend you in certain litigation scenarios. If nothing else, it is one less thing you have to worry about by having a simple procedure in writing that everyone can read, understand, and follow. Thank you.