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To be really irritated by this phone habit?

(51 Posts)
NoisyBrain Thu 22-Dec-16 13:09:17

I line manage a very nice, intelligent, capable woman who's in her mid-20s. However, she is always, and I mean ALWAYS faffing around on her fucking phone at work. If it's not Whatsapp messages, it's Facebook, or Instagram, or some other social app I've probably never heard of, being over 40 & all that.

It's not just the phone as it happens. Her parents, who quite frankly should know better as they are both busy 'career people', email her God knows how many times a day about God knows what. She LIVES with them FFS!!

I did have a word with her not long after she started, because our boss had commented that she was on her phone a lot, so I said she needed to be careful about that, but I could tell that the concept of ignoring the phone was totally alien to her. I think recently it's actually got worse - she often doesn't even look up from it while I'm trying to tell her something work-related and she's clearly not listening properly.

I've come to the conclusion that she is literally addicted to the phone. I've only let it ride so far because she's good at her job and I'm shit at confrontation but it's now getting to the point where even that doesn't compensate for the fact that it's just fucking rude. Isn't it? Or am I just BU and horribly out of touch with how 'Millennials' live their lives?

harderandharder2breathe Thu 22-Dec-16 13:29:09


People can do what they want in their own time but at work they should be, yknow, working!

If it's affecting her work then you need to bring it up in a 1:1 and make it clear that phone and personal emails are for breaks only. If she continues to ignore that then look at how to take it further.

I'm glued to my phone at home. At work, it's on my desk and I'll check it if I have a free minute (call centre so some days I don't look at my phone from start to finish, other days i get more feee time in between calls. As long as we're in available to take calls and are discrete it's not s problem)

user1475253854 Thu 22-Dec-16 13:34:20


PavlovianLunge Thu 22-Dec-16 13:36:03

Very unprofessional and, as you say, rude. She is conducting personal matters on business time. I know you hate confrontation, but it should be fairly simple; you're right, she's wrong - and there are employers that would treat what she's doing as misconduct, or even, depending on what she's doing, gross misconduct.

DesignedForLife Thu 22-Dec-16 13:40:01

YANBU. The odd call or message here & there is acceptable, but not constant.

I worked in an office a couple years ago where phones were banned during work time because of someone acting like that. Maybe you need to consider a hard line approach.

BToperator Thu 22-Dec-16 13:41:46

It does sound bad, but then you say she is good at her job? Is she managing to get done what she is meant to, despite the phone habit? If so I wouldn't say it was such a problem, more an irritation. If her work is suffering, or she is customer facing, then you clearly need to take some action.

NathanBarleyrocks Thu 22-Dec-16 13:42:41

YANBU. Where I work we have to leave our phones in handbags/drawers & on silent. You simply don't see people's mobiles. If you want to make a personal call, you go out of the main office.

Blackbird82 Thu 22-Dec-16 13:43:32

How does she manage to be competent at her job when it sounds like she is distracted the vast majority of the time?!

PavlovianLunge Thu 22-Dec-16 13:49:29

I think that even if she is competent and good at her job, how much more productive and helpful would she be if she wasn't glued to her phone?

Some years ago I managed a woman who was good at her job, got all her tasks done on time, etc. I quickly realised that whenever I left my desk for any length of time, she'd make personal phone calls. So I got details of the whole team's call stats, and she was on personal calls for an average of theee hours a day. It was a total piss-take, not just of me, but also the rest of the team. I raised it in a one-to-one, and the situation improved, although I'm sure she started to work more slowly to eke her work out, rather than have free time to help others.

Anyway, your colleague sounds exactly the same, so I'd tackle it, calmly and rationally, sooner rather than later.

Good luck.

GrimDamnFanjo Thu 22-Dec-16 13:52:47

I'd create an office mobile policy to start in the New Year and apply to all staff regardless so it doesn't seem like you are singling her out and everyone has to follow it.
So phone in a draw, used in own time etc.

DixieWishbone Thu 22-Dec-16 14:03:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Jux Thu 22-Dec-16 14:04:19

It's v unprofessional.

I once worked with a woman who spent almost all her time on personal calls (in the days before mobiles, so using her office phone). We were both temping, and in an open plan office sharing with the people we were secretarial support for. She had been there some time. After my first week there, they got rid of her and offered me the permanent job.

It is not unreasonable to expect an employee whose time and attention you are paying for, to spend that time and attention on the job. If she then finishes all her work more quickly, then clearly she doesn't have enough to do.

user1477282676 Thu 22-Dec-16 14:07:09

If you're her line manager, why have you not simply told her to put it away? confused That's surely what you're meant to tell her? Then if she doesn't...or if she repeatedly plays with her phone, she needs an official warning about it.

lurkinghusband Thu 22-Dec-16 14:07:38

There are some organisations where this would be flagged as a security or even safeguarding risk.

Who knows what information she could smuggle out with screenshots and unmonitored emails ?

SapphireStrange Thu 22-Dec-16 14:09:07

I agree with the post above. Is there something about it in her contract/your company's policy? If so then you don't need to see it as 'confrontation' but can just show her the policy.

Or, if you won't or can't raise it with her, can you ask HR for guidance on how to bring it up?

SapphireStrange Thu 22-Dec-16 14:09:32

Sorry, I meant user1...'s post but couldn't be arsed copying and typing the username!

Bobkinyoyo Thu 22-Dec-16 14:10:40

So is she still managing to get her work done or is it affecting her work? If the former yabu I think.

Where I work no one cares about stuff like that as long as the work is getting done which IMO is sensible.

dollydaydream114 Thu 22-Dec-16 14:16:29

YANBU. Fine for people to check their phone now and again or answer a text, or spend a few minutes on Facebook while they're making a cuppa or having a fag break, but long WhatsApp chats and constant phone use aren't acceptable in the office. If she's spending that much time on the phone, she's not working.

If you have mentioned it to her and she has ignored you, and other people have noticed it and raised it, and if she is looking at her phone while you are talking to her about work tasks, it's really not OK. I'm very attached to my phone, but I wouldn't take this kind of liberty in a million years. It's just unprofessional.

Are you 100% sure that she actually has enough work to be getting on with? Is she getting stuff done? Or is she missing deadlines? If she's getting her work done to an acceptable standard and is still constantly on the phone, she might actually just be bored and without enough to do. I once had a job where there was honestly hardly anything to do ... but I was quite young, and it was my first job, and I didn't want to keep saying 'Has anyone got any more work for me to do?' in case they realised my role was pointless and made me redundant. It might actually just be a matter of sending more work her way...

indigox Thu 22-Dec-16 14:20:18

Why are you a line manager if you "hate confrontation" and as a result can't manage your staff effectively? She shouldn't be using her phone to the degree she is and you should have done something about it by now.

user1477282676 Thu 22-Dec-16 14:23:04

You need to tell her formally that she must stop using her phone during working hours. It should stay in her bag. Breaks...fine...use it then.

stumblymonkey Thu 22-Dec-16 14:24:18

What sort of environment do you work in?

The whole 'phone in a drawer' thing would not go down well in a professional setting, I'd be livid if someone treated me like a child at work.

I agree with the 'drawing a line' thing though....when you go back in Jan tell the whole team that it's been noted by senior management that people are spending a significant amount of time on personal phones during office hours.

Say that while you appreciate that using mobiles is part and parcel of everyday life the expectation is that it will be limited to breaks/lunch and emergencies only.

Then you know the policy has been made very clear.

If she continues to breach the policy then you speak to her about it 1-2-1 and tell her that if she continues you'll need to consider further action (after that speak to HR)

GeorgiePeachie Thu 22-Dec-16 14:25:50

I'll... errrr... get of MN then... TBF I havent been working at all. Sigh I hate my job.

Jaxhog Thu 22-Dec-16 14:32:09

As several people have said, you need to introduce a blanket policy for the whole team. Then, if she breaches it, she can't complain that you've singled her out for no good reason.

You'd think it was common sense not to use your phone constantly on personal business. Unfortunately common sense is anything but common.

FrozeninSummer Thu 22-Dec-16 14:58:53

In most work places this would come under minor misconduct - normally dealt with informally in the first instance and then if that doesn't work, disciplinary action (you'd need to check your HR policy).

She sounds a little bit dim if she's continuing to do it having been told not to especially if she's a newish starter. Bloody hell I had days when I was on my phone more than I should've been in my last job when I knew I wanted to leave but I'd been there for a few years and had a reputation of being professional before I let my unprofessional side out and I always made sure I didn't get caught beyond reason (manager had no issue with us using our phones a bit as we got our work done)- had my manager ever had said "you're taking the piss now" I'd have of course not done it again.

But I never ever did it while someone was trying to talk to me - that is so rude, I would be furious if my employee was looking at their phone when I was talking to them and as a result, I think you should consider disciplinary action (like I say maybe an informal warning at first). It's not acceptable behaviour at work. I say that as someone only just out of my 20s so hopefully not too out of touch (although I often feel very out of touch so what do I know).

tooclosetocall Thu 22-Dec-16 15:01:15

The whole 'phone in a drawer' thing would not go down well in a professional setting, I'd be livid if someone treated me like a child at work

Oh dear, heaven forbid that should happen hmm. Perhaps phone time should be on your time then, not when people are being paid to, you know, work.

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