Should cell phones be prohibited in the workplace?In your response, please be very detailed and specific.

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You will have to assess for yourself the validity of the positions generated by such a discussion.  I think there are some reasons that are compelling on both sides.  The analysis behind them, you might have to add, as well as some research, but I can start the process that you should conclude.

Case for Cell Phones

1)  Creates easier communication- Employees, especially ones who have to travel, can communicate with other employees easier with cell phones.  They increase response time and that can increase productivity.

2)  Helps minimize land line traffic- If everyone in an office had to work off of land lines only, there might be a clog in traffic and eventual shut down.  Having cell phones with a variety of carriers will allow for wider traffic because of less ability to clog in one domain.

3)  Extension of personal self- Some people are very devoted to their cell phones.  By allowing them in the workplace, employers are allowing their employees to inject their own sense of self and voice in the workplace.  This can be extremely important to office climate and workplace morale, thereby increasing productivity in creating a happier employee.


Reasons against

1)  Too much personal interaction on company time- In allowing cell phones, it is hard for employers to constantly monitor whether or not their use is for business or personal use. This creates another level of management headache that can be avoided in banning cell phones entirely.

2)  Protection of business secrets- Given the fact that so many cell phones can store and send information, take pictures, and record data, there might be some businesses that wish to protect their own intellectual property and  intellectual capital in banning cell phones.  Privileged communications can be copied and stored in cell phones and sent to other competitors, sacrificing the company's method of business interaction.

3)  Office distraction- People talking on cell phones, annoying and loud ringtones, and other variables on cell phones have a tendency to be annoying in a crowded office where space is a premium.  Banning them allows for less intrusion in the office.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Just to play the "devil's advocate" here and question the question:

As an ethical and moral question, the banning of cell phones, along with other recent laws and codes of behavior raises the dilemma posed by attempts to regulate--and sometimes legislate--behavior for all based on the misbehavior of some.  This method is analogous to punishing the entire group/class for some things that one or a few have done. It is a violation of personal rights of those who do not abuse privileges.  Because so many people nowadays are unethical, must everyone in a company be punished?

Where does this regulation of behavior, as it has now begun with insurance companies' dictations of what one can and cannot do while driving, businesses' dictations of behavior, etc. end?

In the early nineteenth century, Henry David Thoreau wrote in "resistance to Civil Government,"

That government governs best which governs least

Thoreau knew that a truly free country must have a populace that takes responsibility for their own actions.  A government, or a business, that dictates behavior operates on the premise that the employee is unethical and takes no responsibilities.  For those who are ethical and responsible, such a premise is insulting to their integrity.  Sooner or later, they will look elsewhere for employment where they are treated with dignity. (Was not the failure of the 18th Amendment a testimony to repercussions of attempts to legislate behavior?)Rather than dictating rules, a company may wish to speak to its employees and give ethical training to those in need, in lieu of having their Big Brother dictate behavior.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One thing is to ban a thing, another is to ban or moderate its use.

As per the events of September 11, 2001- there is definitely a need for instant communication in case of an emergency. Also, the viability of communication when one is far away from a phone is another reason to consider NOT banning cell phones.

When one bans, people rebel and controversy rises, sides are taken, and the workplace becomes a debate center.

It is the right of the people to carry a cell phone, and their responsibility to use it apropriately. Organizational leaders may not find it legal nor easy to monitor people having phones at the workplaces. Yet, they can do a great job at specifically pointing out how, when and where these are to be used. This way, any grievances can be counterargued with a firm set of regulations.

sharrons eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The physical presence of cell phones should not be prohibited in the work place.  This type of prohibition has several negative consequences:

1.  Employees may need to use the phone for emergencies.

2. Taking away this type of basic right would certainly lower employee moral.

3.  It is almost impossible to enforce.  In fact enforcing may require an envasion of privacy, which is unethical.

Of course there are instances when the actual use of cell phones should be prohibited.

Example:  About a year ago, school bus drivers in my city were caught talking on cell phones while driving school aged children.  This is an outrage!

Clearly, we must distinguish between cell phone use and the actual presence of a cell phone. 


e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree that the answer depends largely on the type of business/workplace. Waiters and waitresses should probably not be using cell phones for personal reasons during their shifts because this type of distraction can significantly distrupt service. 

A real estate agent, however, may have important work-related information coming in at any time on a "personal" phone. 

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
I think it depends on the workplace. In some cases, cell phones can actually aid productivity. For example, if your business has several people spread out then they can use the phone to keep track of one another. Generally, cell phones are more likely to cause a distraction than to be useful.
eaamon | Student

interesting thought "it depends on the work place!?"

how true. if you worked at google yes.

but if you worked in a small shop of 10 people it could become a disruptive nusance. especially if you were responsible for production non-stop until your break. the answer is no!

what if you were a small shop owner who had a employee who every 10 minutes ran to the restroom to text or sexted his/her companion/partner. every minute lost is coming out of your pocket.

now if that person had to work a counter and help customers who visited your retail store......that person in texting in a bathroom and some one else has to answer the customer. that someone else will be upset doing someone elses JOB!!! so why should I hire another person to take the texting persons place and pay two people? I am not in the upper 1% you know.

as for prohibiting them is many cases yes. leave it in your car or it may mean suspension to termination.

alzamov | Student

Here's the real deal.  Cell Phones are not a right.  They are a priveledge.  There is no amendment to the US Constitution that provides that all shall have equal and unabated cell phone usage.  It's not a moral delima, it's not a social dilema, it's a financial delima.

If you are at work being payed to do a job....then you should be doing that job, not playing on your cell phone, texting john, updating facebook, twitting, or cruising the web.  There's always the argument that the ability can increase productivity through increased morale, but it's a fine line and one that most employees do not know how to stop before.  I am a huge proponent of manage more by manage less and let people be adults and judge their end results.  However, at some level this becomes an issue of others seeing it and their morale drops because the person sitting next to them isn't working and you have yourself a little mini-epidemic.

Bottom line is this, if they aren't in the workplace they cannot distract.  If there is potential for emergency the manager's number is always available and most situations will be looked at favorably and a cell phone would be permitted in that situation.  With today's cell phone technology where it is and the ease which one can abuse it, it's not fiscally responsible for a company to sit on its hands and allow people to steal from it through non-productivity.  The case for is nothing more than self entitlement, the case against has real merit.

krishna-agrawala | Student

A blanket an on cell phones in the work places is not justified. To begin with many people require cell phones for carrying out their official duties. Even otherwise, it is not fair to insist that people should just not be reachable by outside world, while they are in their work places.

Banning of cell phones makes sense only in situations where incoming calls may create disturbances for the person receiving the call or for others. for example, it makes sense to switch of cell phones during meetings and in class rooms so that others  are not disturbed by incoming calls. Similarly, use of cellphone while doing work such as operating a machine on shop-floor or driving a car can be dangerous and must be avoided.