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February 22, 2022

Smartphones improve productivity but not manners

Handheld devices may make workers more productive but they haven't made their offices any more pleasant, a recent Robert Half Technology survey suggests.

Asked how the growing use of mobile gadgets such as smartphones and other electronic devices is affecting workplace etiquette, 42% of Canadian CIOs said the number of breaches has definitely increased. Only 6% felt they had fallen. 

To some, the use of BlackBerrys and iPhones in meetings is anathema. So much so that nearly 20% of workers claim they've been reprimanded by their employers or fellow workers for showing bad manners with their wireless device, reports Hotjobs.

Despite resistance, the etiquette debate seems to be tilting in the favour of smartphone use, prompting Robert Half's Megan Slabinski to identify the worst types of tech-etiquette offenders.

Check and see if they remind you of anybody you know.

The Misguided Multitasker. This person thinks that e-mailing or texting during a meeting or conversation demonstrates efficiency. But others may regard it as a sign he prizes his BlackBerry more than the company he keeps, Slabinski suggests. Unless you want to create potential animosity at work, use your handheld device only in an urgent situation and step out of the room to reply.

The E-mail Addict. Ah, the e-mail tagger. She relies on a constant stream of e-mails, instant messages or texts to communicate all of her needs, often thinking it will save time. But excessive messaging, particularly regarding trivial things, can be inefficient and disruptive. Often a phone call or in-person discussion can resolve issues more quickly.

The Broadcaster. This person has no shame when it comes to using his cell phone anytime, anywhere - including open office halls and the public restroom. When using your cell phone in common areas, it's not only disrespectful but also potentially off-putting to others, says Slabinski. Keep private conversations limited to private places.

The Cyborg. Watch for the blinking glow of a Bluetooth headset or iPod earbud nestled in her ear. Keeping a wireless earpiece or headphones constantly plugged in signals to others who may need to speak to you that your attention isn't readily available, Slabinski points out. Show that you're accessible to your colleagues by using earpieces in the office with discretion. 

The Distractor. This person may have good intentions in setting his phone to vibrate rather than torturing colleagues with a cheesy ringtone, but hearing it repeatedly buzzing loudly on a desktop or during a meeting can be just as distracting. A better solution, Slabinski says: Set your phone to silent or keep it in your pocket.

How are things where you work? How involved should employers be when it comes to regulating smartphones?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...