Cell Phone at Work Policies (With Examples)

Cell phones are part of everyday life. That means your employees will probably bring their cell phones to work, so it’s important to have guidelines in place for their use. Depending on the types of jobs your employees perform, cell phone policies may need to address the use of phones for work and business travel, safety and privacy concerns, and maintaining a productive workplace.

Below, you’ll find tips on what to consider when writing an effective and fair cell phone policy for your employees.

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What is a work cell phone policy?

A cell phone policy is a set of guidelines regarding cell phone usage in the workplace. Your employees should be able to read your cell phone policy and understand what you expect of them when using their personal cell phone at work.

See 15 more policies your business should have.


Reasons to have a cell phone policy

Cell phone usage may affect certain parts of your company’s day-to-day workflow, Here are several reasons to have a cell phone policy in place at your company:

Safety: Whether your office is in a warehouse or call center, there are hazards in the workplace. Employees need to avoid using a cell phone when they are operating heavy machinery or even while doing routine things like walking up or down stairs as it’s possible to become distracted and not take safety as seriously as they should.

Customer service: To provide the highest level of customer service, employees should pay attention to customers and show that they’re accessible and available to clients who come in the door.

Productivity: With a cell phone policy in place, employees have guidelines for when they can take breaks and check their phones for calls, texts, social media or news. That way, the workplace can be more productive and remain free from distractions.

Security: When an employee is using their cell phone at work, it’s likely that they’ll also connect to the company’s Wi-Fi. However, this can open up your company to unwanted network access or even cause a security breach. In fact, according to one survey, 60% of respondents think that mobile devices are their company’s biggest IT security threat.

The basics of work cell phone policies

When writing your company’s cell phone at work policy, review current regulations to determine what is required in your state. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do your employees supply their own cell phones for work?
  • Do you expect employees to be available remotely for their jobs?
  • Are there safety concerns for employees using phones at work?
  • Should there be guidelines for personal cell phone use versus business cell phone use? (If you pay for business cell phones, you may stipulate what types of calls can be made. Some companies allow for a reasonable number of personal calls if they travel as a courtesy.)
  • Are there privacy and security concerns with the use of cellphone cameras in the workplace?

Three best practices for cell phone policies

Here are three suggestions you should consider when creating your cell phone policy:


Equip employees for work

Many employees use their cellphones for work-related tasks — to store contacts, take photographs that help them with business-related tasks, perform work-related research, keep calendars, use apps that enhance productivity and text with colleagues who are out of the office on business. If cellphones make your employees more productive, write policies that acknowledge their use for work while requesting that employees use common sense to avoid distractions.

Related: Giving Employees Business Cell Phones: Best Practices

Communicate clearly

Communicate your cell phone policy in your employee handbook, as part of onboarding, or on your company intranet. If the policy is new, and there are safety or security concerns for your workplace, it’s important that employees confirm that they’ve been given this information via signature or email verification. You may also wish to post the policy in a visible area, such as the break room. Make yourself available to answer any questions.

Write clearly. Your policy should state when and where employees are allowed to use their cellphones and if there are any disciplinary actions for violations. A clear set of guidelines reduces miscommunications.

Address cell phone use on the road

It’s important to write cell phone policies that cover employees at work and during business travel. OSHA offers these suggestions for policies:

  • Prohibit all texting while driving and label vehicles as text-free zones.
  • Ensure there are no work procedures or duties that make it necessary for employees to text while driving.
  • Communicate safe practices. For example, phones should be set to “silent mode” when driving, and calls sent to voicemail. If drivers receive important phone calls, they should be required to pull over before answering calls.
  • Remove incentives or systems that might make employees text while driving.

How to write a work cell phone policy

Here are some points to include when writing a cell phone policy for your business:

  • Purpose: Explain why there is a cell phone policy and the effects that cell phone usage can have on the workplace.
  • Expectations: Outline what you expect of all employees regarding their phone use. Don’t leave room for misinterpretation in this section of your policy. Instead, include specifics and even examples if appropriate. Make sure your employees know when they may use their cell phones during the workday and where they can use them (e.g., break room).
  • Consequences: Notify employees of the repercussions of not following your cell phone policy. Craft a graduated system that includes a warning first so people can learn to adhere to the new rules.

Cell phone policy examples

Consider using one of these examples to guide your company’s cell phone policy:

Cell phone policy example #1

The purpose of this cell phone policy is to form a work environment that is productive and free of distractions.

All employees must operate under this policy, regardless of position. It is the company’s expectation that all cell phones will be off or on silent during normal business hours so normal workflow remains undisturbed. It is expected that employees will only use their personal cell phones for emergencies or while taking an unpaid break. If an employee is operating a motor vehicle or other heavy machinery for the company, the employee must refrain from using their cell phone until it becomes safe to do so.

Failure to follow this cell phone policy will result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.

Cell phone policy example #2

The purpose of this cell phone policy is to create consistency in our workplace operations, including how we minimize distractions and allow for our normal workflow to continue. When personal cell phones are used in the workplace, it can put the company at risk.

Although we recognize the need to have personal cell phones at work, employees should use them only intermittently or outside of their working hours. When cell phones are in use, please do so away from your colleagues so you don’t become a distraction. Cell phones are not to be used to record or share confidential company information or use the company’s network to download illegal or inappropriate materials from the internet.

Our company reserves the right to monitor your cell phone usage and take disciplinary action up to and including termination for more serious violations.

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Cell phone policy FAQs

Should there be a different policy for company and personal cell phone use?

This depends on how your employees use their phones and whether personal cell phone use is part of their jobs. If your employees use their personal cell phones for business, trust that they’re using them responsibly.

Should policies be the same for all employees?

Policies depend on your business and the types of jobs employees perform. For example, if the majority of your employees work in manufacturing and handle heavy equipment, a uniform cell phone policy that addresses safety concerns is appropriate. But if you also employ salespeople who frequently interact with clients, the same cell phone policy may not be practical. Consider job types and creating job-specific policies to keep everyone safe and productive.

How can you enforce a work cell phone policy?

Send regular reminders if safety is a concern. Ensure a disciplinary procedure is established for all your policies. Many employers start with verbal warnings, escalate to written warnings for second violations and consider other disciplinary actions when policies are repeatedly violated. Ensure you document all disciplinary actions.

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