Is it Time to Update Your Cell Phone Policy?

cell-phone-calling-man-1236740-639x424The world keeps changing! If you are like most practice owners, you have an office policy like this one: “You may use your own electronic device, including your cell phone, tablet or laptop during your breaks. You may not use your electronic device during your work hours, except for emergencies.”

You may be finding it difficult to enforce this type of rule, especially with Millennials (ages 18-34). This generation started to reach adulthood in 2000 (the new millennium), and is now the largest, most-diverse and most technically savvy generation in the U.S. population. Nearly all of them own and love their cell phones.

According to a poll conducted by a company called Mobiliron with 3500 Millennials, 60% would quit their jobs if they could not use their cell phones for personal tasks during work hours.

So a strict policy about personal electronic device use in your practice may not be a good idea.

Shadow Tasking

The same poll asked these 3500 employees about “shadow tasking” which means doing personal tasks during work hours; and work tasks during personal time.

  • 82% do at least one personal task per day on their cell phones during work time
  • 64% do at least one work task per day on their cell phones during their personal time

So if you want your staff members to do work tasks, like read work-related emails during their personal time, you must also consider letting them do personal tasks at work.

Mobile Guilt

Another new term, meaning you feel guilty about shadow tasking. Per this same poll of Millennials:

  • 58% suffer from mobile guilt when receiving personal communications during work hours
  • 61% have mobile guilt when receiving work communications during personal hours

Staff who feel guilty do not perform as well as they should. When shadow tasking is allowed, mobile guilt stops being an issue.


The best and brightest employees of all ages love their devices. Prohibiting their use during work may no longer be realistic or necessary. Instead, we recommend:

1. Make productivity, efficiency and patient service your highest priority when establishing office rules. For example, sending a text to a family member while waiting on hold will hardly hurt practice productivity.

2. Consider your own cell phone use and non-use when working. For example, you would never talk or text while treating a patient. Perhaps you leave your phone on your desk while working. Checking email on your phone between patients may be normal for you. And you probably wait for your break before playing games, taking selfies or going on Facebook. You probably use your phone for work tasks when at home, as well.

3. Talk to your staff members about the new rules. What personal tasks do they think are okay or not okay to do during work? What work tasks do they think are okay or not okay to do during their personal time?

4. Consider a policy that allows them to work on their own terms, as long as it never interferes with their work or their coworkers work. If they act as responsibly as you, your practice will not suffer.

5. Include a rule that patient Protected Health Information is never stored on a staff member’s personal device.

This article provided courtesy of ExecTech.