Time management – or lack of it – is the biggest killer to workforce productivity. So much so, that one of most popular training courses is time management.

When we deliver this course, the biggest challenge that comes up for employers is that of mobile phones – it consistently comes up as the biggest distraction and time sucker within their businesses.

One of the simplest ways to do something about it is to have a mobile phone use policy. Very few employers seem to have one of these – and those that do tend to fall down by not communicating it or enforcing it.

Here’s our guide to getting it right.

How much time do we spend on our mobile devices?

According to a recent survey, the average person scrolls 108 minutes a day and 88 miles a year. And at that speed, you’d be able to ‘climb’ Mount Everest in 22 days. When your whole life is practically in your phone, it’s so easy to be distracted by it throughout the day. And this can really affect your focus and productivity – both in your personal life and at work.

What’s the challenge for employers?

As an employer, this is your main concern…

How can you encourage your staff to spend less time on their phones and more time doing the work you’re paying them for? This is difficult, especially when a lot of employees use their phone for both personal and work. And with the increase in remote and hybrid working, it can be incredibly difficult to manage this as there are so many blurred lines.

How strict will you be?

This will often depend on the type of work your employees do. Drivers, for example, would need a stricter policy than an office worker might.

A strict policy may say that phones must be switched off during work hours or kept away. Failure to comply would result in disciplinary action.

A more flexible policy may state that phones should be switched to silent during work hours, that essential calls must be taken away from the desk, and that phones should not be used during meetings. You must remind staff that breaks are the time to handle personal emails, text messages, calls, and anything else.

Why might a Risk Assessment may be needed?

Before you begin writing your policy, it’s a good idea to carry out a full risk assessment of your business. There may be roles within the company where a phone could be hazardous. For example, if you have drivers, people operating heavy machinery, electrical equipment that could be disrupted, or even somewhere where a distraction could cause danger. In such cases, outline the specific roles that have a stricter usage policy and make clear the repercussion for breaching the policy.

What is Acceptable phone use?

An employee making or receiving an emergency call, having a sick relative, a partner due to go into labour, for instance, may be acceptable scenarios in which phone use is allowed. Smartphones may also prove useful if your employees wish to add a work meeting or event to their personal calendars, or create reminders for themselves, or even simply use their calculator to help them do their job. Some businesses also allow employees to listen to music using headphones while they work. This all needs to go into your policy too.

What about Social Media?

Social media and mobile phones can be a tricky one to navigate. You may decide to put a ban on social media use during work time, and that’s ok. But consider employees that may use social media as part of their role. Employees may need to use their phones to capture images for your social media feeds or even post updates, this exception should be covered in your policy too, to avoid any misunderstanding. If you don’t decide to place a ban on social media during working hours, you should include what you deem to be acceptable use, and what action may be taken if this is abused.

How about company-issued phones?

Include a section on company-issued mobile phones if you have them. It should explain that the device is company property, as well as what is considered to be acceptable use of the phone. As an example, should your employees avoid making personal calls on the company device, or will they be required to cover the cost of non-work related calls? Or perhaps you want to make sure that certain apps aren’t downloaded onto the device for security purposes, or to include that no other person is allowed access to the device. Include it all in your policy, so that everything is clear and there is no confusion.

What counts as an offence?

Although you may have already mentioned offences in your policy, include a section that clearly and simply defines exactly what counts as a breach of policy and how that will be dealt with. It’s a good idea to refer staff to your disciplinary procedure here too, so that no-one is left in any doubt over the seriousness of breaking the rules.

Give and take is always a better motivator for employees and is much better for retaining your best people, and maintaining a motivated, productive workforce.

Be fair and consistent in everything you do, and ensure that there is no room for anyone to feel as though another member of the team is getting away with breaking the policy.

It can be difficult to decide on the most suitable mobile phone use policy for your business, and it may be something that you feel you would like to alter over time. As long as you update your policy and keep your staff informed of any changes, that’s ok.

If you’d like a hand getting it right from the beginning, we are here to help. Get in touch now to start the conversation.