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Breaks and personal phones - advice/opinions

(116 Posts)
OrangeSunset Fri 27-Sep-19 19:40:17

Not an issue, yet. Just seeking some advise/opinions.

I manage a small team and have two ‘niggles’ to iron out.

Some have work and personal phones, some have only work phones which they use for personal too.
Breaks - we have been fairly informal about breaks, some people always have one, some people never do, work through lunch and leave ‘earlier’. This results in an exodus quite early in my opinion. As an aside, I feel that those who are still working 4pm-6pm end up more ‘up against it’ than those who start work 7.30am to 9am as the tasks of the day need finishing.

Team has grown significantly in last year. And we now have young people in the team. I want to ensure we are being fair, consistent and meeting business need. And that we are setting clear expectations for new folk.

Some comments have been made by others re personal phones and use during the day. Some of the personal phone users have been asked to put them away, but in return have pointed out that others have personal stuff on their work phones. Fair enough.

What I want to do is the following;
Personal phones away except for at breaks. Clarity for those with one handset that they aren’t expected to use it for personal reasons except at breaks in interests of fairness.
A mandatory break of at least 30mins away from desk except in exceptional circs. For some this will mean getting to work 30mins earlier or staying 30mins later than they do currently. We do 8 hr day excl breaks.

All the above covered by contracts and policies. BUT it is a change to the way we have done things.

First, am I being reasonable? Two, how do I do this without p’ing everyone off?

dementedpixie Fri 27-Sep-19 19:59:25

I didnt think the break could be at the start or end of shift

OrangeSunset Fri 27-Sep-19 20:20:08

Yes, the break needs to be in the middle of the day ie between 12noon and 2pm.

At the moment some don’t take any, just work from 8am til 4pm. From a well-being point of view it’s not great and that’s my angle.

LIZS Fri 27-Sep-19 20:25:17

You need to insist they take a break, latest 6 hours after they start.

EarringsandLipstick Fri 27-Sep-19 20:33:58

The break issue is clear. They cannot, legally, not take a break & then leave earlier.

Depending on your level of seniority, I'd actually get that clarified by senior management / HR, and send the communication.

I'm confused about the personal use of phones? Do you mean that you don't want them taking / making personal phone calls?

I don't think that's the hill you want to die on - adults are entitled to have some personal calls, just within reason. I'd keep it that way, and I would also focus on the work needs, how they are being met and talk to the team about this.

In the main, I'd avoid handing down 'rules' as it just gets people's backs up.

OrangeSunset Fri 27-Sep-19 20:38:42

It’s having personal phones on desks and getting distracted by messages that bothers me. I don’t mind calls - everyone needs to take a call from the garage or whatever. But the ‘phone on desk to see messages’ doesn’t seem right.

I agree re handing down of rules. But how do I clarify the break thing without it being viewed as imposing rules?

Comefromaway Fri 27-Sep-19 20:46:07

We sent a memo as follow some- It has been brought to my attention that we are breaking employment law by allowing staff to work more than 6 hours without taking at least a 20 minute break. This can not legally be taken at the beginning or end of the day by starting later or leaving earlier.

Due to this, and to ensure the office is fully staffed during core business hours everyone must take a 30 minute rest break between the hours of 12-2 on a rota basis.

LIZS Fri 27-Sep-19 20:46:47

A reminder that it is an obligation on employer and employee to take a break. Why are work phones being used for personal calls/text/email, that should only occur in an emergency. Is the policy clear enough?

OrangeSunset Fri 27-Sep-19 21:20:50

Very helpful confirmation on the breaks, thank you.

Phones - we issue work ones (we don’t have desk phones) and staff are allowed to use them as their personal phone as a benefit.

What do other places do re personal phones? It’s messaging/WhatsApp that is distributive when the phone is on their desk.

vickkiMommy Fri 27-Sep-19 21:33:29

I've worked in several office places and the general rule in regards to phones has always been they're not allowed during office hours. As these are office phones then the rules usually are business calls olny. Depending on the type of business you work in it could even be breaking data protection laws by having the phones on the desk especially if these are smart phones. I know in some of the offices I've worked in all personal phones had to be locked in a locker in the hallway before entering the actual office. It might be a good idea to check to make sure that this is not the case .x

OrangeSunset Fri 27-Sep-19 21:45:52

Ok. So....

Can I insist the break is away from desk, so I know it’s a break?

Phones - if I ask for personal phones to be away, in drawer, what do I say to those with one phone? For fairness those with a personal phone will expect those with only one phone to be held to the same standards. It does muddy the water that it’s only 1 handset.

LIZS Fri 27-Sep-19 21:49:36

Any personal apps, email etc needs to be switched off at the desk so notifications don't interrupt. Agree you need to be careful about gdpr and confidentiality risk if phones are also being used outside work.

ThatCurlyGirl Fri 27-Sep-19 21:49:43

I don't think you should be as concerned as you are with dressing things up so they aren't considered "rules".

Rules are to be expected to some extent at work - you aren't being draconian or dictatorial by putting in place some rules that you believe will make the team more efficient and allow for a more even split of responsibility rather than feeling that some members of the team are put under more pressure.

You're a manager it's your job to make the team as efficient as possible and the working conditions fair for the whole team.

MrsMozartMkII Fri 27-Sep-19 21:51:35

Is the work getting done on time and to standard required?

I got to lots of different client sites and have never seen such a restriction.

Break it down - in reality how can it work, unless you give everyone a work phone, thereby everyone can put their personal phones away.

Skiaddicted Fri 27-Sep-19 21:52:49

We are allowed "reasonable" personal phone use at work. No one takes the piss as if we did we wouldnt get our work finished but sometimes its handy to chat to DH quickly on whatsapp about what he wants for dinner or whether DC went into nursery happily etc

MrsLEB Fri 27-Sep-19 22:15:52

Personally I think it's commonplace now within an office environment for personal phones to be out on the desk. I think 'most' people are easily able to switch between work and pleasure and generally workplaces are changing to become more fluid with work life balance. Unless it's becoming so excessive its causing an issue in relation to productivity or preventing others from working I can't see a reason to stop it.

Regarding the breaks, you are completely right to raise the importance of them in relation to the law and also wellbeing. I would raise it at a team meeting explaining clearly what your expectation is going forward and the reasons why and follow this up with an email.

MrsLEB Fri 27-Sep-19 22:19:32

It's also not an unreasonable request/instruction to ask that breaks are taken away from the desk either. At the end of the day you're doing it as a caring manager to look out for their welfare. Not many others would...

twirlypoo Fri 27-Sep-19 22:22:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ColaFreezePop Fri 27-Sep-19 22:28:33

I've never taken breaks in most of the places I've worked and if you forced one on me I would leave.

In regards to the working times in most places I've worked people end up staggering their starting times naturally. Where that doesn't happen and there is no good reason why someone can't come in at a particular time then start times have been enforced. Though the start time is something like 8.30-9.30am or 9-10am rather than just a blanket 9am.

stanski Fri 27-Sep-19 22:51:16

I don't do lunch breaks and it would annoy me being forced to take one. Phones - you tell them to mute whatsapp during working hours (if whatsapp is the main problem)
Hours - start time between 9-9:30 leave time between 5:30-6 depending on when they come in. That is flexibility but not taking the piss. Assert yourself.

stanski Fri 27-Sep-19 22:55:23

However I do agree with @twirlypoo if it's not affecting their work then does it really matter if they look at their phones?! The question here is whether it is affecting their performance or not.

Summersunshine2 Fri 27-Sep-19 23:07:36

We all have our personal phones on our desks in work. I've even been texting when my boss comes over.
I do an excellent job - I can manage to send a 30 second text and still do an excellent job.
If people aren't doing a good job you should be addressing that. If people are texting too much address it as it comes up.
Imposing phone rule I think will not motivate your staff!
The break rule I agree with as I work much better with a ten min break and force myself to do this even if snowed under.

RaymondStopThat Fri 27-Sep-19 23:16:35

I don't do lunch breaks and it would annoy me being forced to take one

That's irrelevant with all due respect, employment legislation is very clear on the requirement for breaks.

MiniMum97 Fri 27-Sep-19 23:38:33

I think the lunch thing is reasonable (although I very guilty if not taking a breaks at all (and I never leave early!)). It is good for people's well-being to take a break half way through the day.

However I think telling people they can't use their personal phone reasonably is patronising and treating adults like children. If certain people take the piss then they should be dealt with individually. It is lazy management to bring in rules like this for everyone because you can't manage individuals properly.

If notifications are distracting then everyone should have their phones on silent.

If you think are concerned they are distracting individuals you need to think about that as it sounds like you are treating adults like children. Adults should be able to manage their own environment.

MiniMum97 Fri 27-Sep-19 23:40:28

I would probably leave a job too if they brought I no phone rule. I would find it patronising, and would feel like my employer didn't trust me, when I work bloody hard.

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