Should your boss be able to ban you using your mobile phone?

Many people will nod and agree that children need to be torn away from their phones. But what about adults?


The month of September is upon us and children are settling into school. At this time of year, headlines and airwaves tend to fill up with back-to-school topics: healthy lunches, the use of iPads versus books, juggling childcare, work, and school timetables, and, a relatively new phenomenon but a common discussion nowadays: the use of smartphones.

Last year, the French government banned phone use in all primary and middle schools. Phones had already been banned in classrooms but the new law banned them from the school completely. The French education minister called the ban a detox law for the 21st century. 

"How would you feel if you were banned from using your mobile phone at work?"

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Many people will nod and agree that children need to be torn away from their phones, that the amount of time they spend on their phones is unhealthy, and that the law is a great idea.

But how would you feel if you were banned from using your mobile phone at work? 

Supermac’s

Companies across the world have started to introduce policies that sees them locking their employees’ phones away during working hours. Often, this occurs in industries such as retail, where the employee is customer-facing.

"The average office employee spends 56 minutes every day using their phone at work for non-work activity."

Recently Supermac’s boss Pat McDonagh told the Irish Independent that he believed phones should be banned at work where there are health and safety concerns, for example when someone is operating a grill or fryer. But in many companies, employers are not concerned about employee safety when they ban phone use, they are worried about productivity. 

 

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The average office employee spends 56 minutes every day using their phone at work for non-work activity, according to a study from recruitment company OfficeTeam.

If the employee is between 18 to 34, they spend 70 minutes daily on their mobile devices while at work, the study found. Those figures do not paint employees in the best light, but think about it from the employees point of view. Because of advancements in technology, more and more companies demand and expect that their employees are contactable outside of working hours.

Compromise

Thanks to smartphones, many people check their work email first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

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"Most people in those roles would probably be happy to give up their phone at work if it meant they could ignore it when they were at home too."

They take business calls at the dinner table. They send reports from the couch. They check in with a client after putting their kids to bed. 

Most people in those roles would probably be happy to give up their phone at work if it meant they could ignore it when they were at home too.

But often the modern world doesn’t work like that. There needs to be compromise on both sides when it comes to excessive phone use, both in the office and outside of it.


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