I don't know how many times I've said "What would we do without cell phones?" or "Remember when cell phones were just for emergencies?" That isn't the case anymore. Almost all of us have cell phones, and almost all of us are using our cell phones several times a day. Some of us may even still be making calls on our cell phones, but now we can text, check email, go on the Internet, play games, manage our projects and so much more right from these little devices.
So the presence of cell phones on the jobsite, while it can be debated, is commonplace. The problem now becomes how do we control the use of personal and/or company-issued cell phones to make sure our employees are not only behaving safely on the job but not losing time and productivity to cell phone distractions.
Some companies may have a no cell phone policy while on the job, but that seems nearly unenforceable in this technology dependent day and age. If you don't have any cell phone policy it is time to create one. And if you do have a policy in place, spend some time reviewing it and updating as necessary.
Why you need a policy
Cell phones are a distraction whether you're walking, standing, driving a car or operating a piece of heavy machinery. To prevent unsafe working conditions and jobsite accidents construction contractors need to have a cell phone policy covering proper use and acceptable times cell phones can be used.
Texts, emails and photographs can now all be used in litigation and arbitration cases. This can both benefit and harm a construction company and needs to be addressed in your cell phone policy.
Cell phones can also be a avenue to make harassment on the jobsite easier. Just like I mentioned above, this is a negative use but can also benefit a contractor by providing an udisputable record should a discrimination or harassment claim arise.
A lot of private company information is now shared over cell phones and through mobile apps. It's important to have a cell phone policy that covers the guidelines of use, distribution and sharing of this information over mobile devices. Included in this policy should be protocols to identify and protect confidential information, including what to do when an employee is terminated or leaves the company.
In addition to having an updated cell phone policy, construction contractors must also make sure they have reasonable and enforceable consequences should an employee violate the policy. A policy is no good if a contractor does not enforce the rules.
How to create a company cell phone policy
There are so many resources contractors can go to when creating a cell phone (or "communication device") policy. If you have a human resource department or manager they should lead the drafting of a cell phone policy. Due to legal risks, it would also be wise to consult a lawyer or legal counsel before finalizing your policy.
If you don't have a cell phone policy in place, or if you're looking to update an outdated policy, here are some questions to ask when drafting your company's policy.
- What cell phone issues already exist within the company?
- What types of guidelines are reasonable for our business/industry?
- What mobile capabilities do my employees need?
In addition, you must decide what your cell phone policy will cover. Some topics to cover could include:
- General cell phone etiquette
- Acceptable/unacceptable uses or places of use
- Uses interfering with productivity
- Personal use versus company use
- Use of a personal device compared to a company-issued device
- Safety, liabilities and legal issues
- Who this policy applies to
Tips for reducing unnecessary cell phone use on the jobsite
Some cell phone use is necessary for our jobs, but not always. Business consultant Brad Humphrey offers seven tips that can help construction contractors reduce cell phone distractions on the jobsite.
- Establish a no cell phone use while working policy
- Require owners and senior leaders to model the no cell phone use policy
- Establish "call zones" on project sites and in the office
- Establish "call times" on projects and in the office
- Allow for hardship cases
- Treat correction of cell phone abuse as any other performance issue
- Provide a cell phone "lock box"
Once your policy is created, make sure it is written and posted in strategic points in both the office and in the field if possible.
What are your thoughts on a company cell phone policy? Do you have one or plan to create one?
What is included in your cell phone policy?
Are your employees on board with the policy?
Share your thoughts in the comments section below.