Handling Personal Calls and Texting at Work

There has always been great debate over whether employees should take personal calls while working. It is understandable that a friend or family member would need to get in touch with you in the event of an emergency or for a number of reasons. While each company has their own policy on personal calls, cell phone usage, and text messaging, there are several guidelines that can be followed.

In most cases, you are provided with a work phone on your desk. Many businesses are billed for each and every phone call that is made and received. While some employees feel it necessary to call their mom long distance several times a day, it is considered disruptive and costly to the employer. If you’re hoping the calls go unnoticed, think again. During an unstable economic forecast, employers are looking for ways to cut costs and save on their monthly bills. Chances are they are checking the bills and know exactly how long you talked each time.

It is understandable that you receive an occasional phone call. However, use common sense when making and receiving calls, especially long distance ones. Consider asking your boss’s permission before making the occasional long distance call.

While it is tempting, don’t allow your cell phone to take over your workday. Yes, you can make calls at any time without raising your boss’s phone bills. However, personal cell phone calls should also be kept to a minimum. If you do need to make or receive a call, step out of the office and keep the conversation short. Do not sneak into the bathroom for a 15 minute call.

Even more tempting, text messaging can quickly become distracting and time consuming. Employees may think that replying to or sending a quick text message does little to no harm. However, with the average person sending anywhere from 20-300 texts a day, the time involved takes away from your job responsibilities.

If you must send a text message, keep it short and to the point. If you are receiving text messages from friends, consider waiting to reply during breaks or when you get home.

While there are some instances when you do need to text or call, there are several times when your phone should be turned off or on vibrate. These include:

* when interacting with a customer
* when offering customer service over the phone
* during a meeting
* when working with the public

There is nothing more annoying to a customer then having their order rung up by a cashier discussing their weekend plans on the company phone. The customer feels neglected and as though they are an inconvenience. That customer and their business help pay your salary and offer job security. They deserve 100% of your attention. How can you deliver that if you are text messaging while interacting with them? It’s impossible.

While there are instances where phone calls and text messages are acceptable, be sure to review your company’s policies. A lot of wasted time is contributed to phone calls and text messaging. This time could be better spent assisting a customer or tackling a job responsibility. Also, consider that personal phone calls at work are rarely ever private. If your cubicle neighbor hears you discussing the details of your divorce, chances are it will become the newest office gossip. For the most part, leave your personal, home matters at home.

About Andrew Jensen

Andrew Jensen, a business growth, efficiency & marketing consultant, provides business advisory services for clients in the Baltimore; Washington, D.C.; York, Hanover, Lancaster & Harrisburg, PA regions. Andrew advises regarding business growth, productivity, efficiency, business startups, customer service, and online/offline marketing. Follow Andrew on Google+


  1. My friend who works at Wells Fargo told me that his team’s meeting productivity would increase 40% or more if everyone wasn’t texting and checking their texts during meetings.

    After my three year old daughter was nearly run down by a texting driver last fall I invented an app to manage texting whether the user is at home, in the office or on the road. The full version at four bucks has GPS road safety features but the simple text Auto Reply version called OTTER-urban is only two bucks and offers a timer and unlimited, grouped, customizable responses. Its simple and easy to schedule “texting blackout periods” so you can focus on the task at hand, like an important meeting. Is two bucks worth increasing productivity by 40%? Take a look and feedback is welcomed.

    Erik Wood, owner
    OTTER app

  2. Andrew Jensen says:

    Thanks for the feedback, Eric! I’ll be sure to look into the app. Definitely would be useful many times …

Share Your Thoughts