June 20th, 2017

Ask the Etiquette Expert: 8 Rules for Texting at Work

by Jacqueline Whitmore

Credit: Adobe Stock

Dear Jacqueline,

I have an employee who always seems to be texting on her personal phone. She keeps it beside her computer and checks it every few minutes. It looks like she’s more interested in her social life and I feel it’s unfair to all of us in the office who work hard and stay focused. What are your recommendations about excessive texting in the office? How do I put this to an end?

Best regards, Tired of Texts


Dear Tired,

Your problem is not uncommon, I often hear complaints about excessive texting at work and socially. Texting has become a normal part of our daily lexicon, often to the point where we prefer to text rather than actually speak to people. In fact, a Gallup poll reported that texting is a dominant way Americans under 50 communicate.

The problem is, there isn’t a lot of guidance around what, for most people, is a casual form of communication. Many employee manuals and orientations don’t cover texting at work, which makes knowing what to do or not to do all the more stressful.

If this person’s behavior is disruptive to your work, you must address the issue. Make sure you pull this employee aside and speak with her in private. You can say something like, “Jill, I want you to be as productive as possible while you’re here at work, so I have to ask you to put your phone away. I’ve noticed that you’ve been texting more frequently lately and it’s becoming a distraction.”

Communication is key. Give your employee an opportunity to state her case. Who knows, she may be dealing with a sick child at home or some personal matters that require much of her attention. Let her know that you care about her success and will work with her to make sure she has enough time to handle these issues without interfering with her day-to-day responsibilities. Be sure to document your conversation just in case she refuses to stop this behavior and you have to take more drastic measures in the future.

Otherwise, if you do nothing, it sends a message to other workers that this type of behavior is acceptable, and can ultimately be counterproductive to your company’s success. Establish some company guidelines around texting. Here are some suggestions: READ MORE

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