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Career Advice

9 Rules of Office Phone Etiquette

Posted by Glassdoor Team

Career Advice Experts

Last Updated April 16, 2017
|5 min read

In 2017, we use our phones daily. Whether it’s your smartphone or an office desk phone, you’re using a phone to communicate inside and outside the workplace. But when you’re at work, there are certain etiquette rules to consider while talking on your office phone or sending personal texts to friends.

If you want to avoid trouble in the workplace regarding your phone usage, you should be aware of the dos and dont's of office phone etiquette.

Business etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Palm Beach Jacqueline Whitmore knows the best ways to handle modern phone etiquette at work. We spoke with Jacqueline to outline the top nine tips every employee should know, especially if you work in a conservative, corporate office.

1. Keep your phone out of sight

Though your workplace environment will ultimately decide how comfortable you are keeping your phone in plain sight, Jacqueline notes that most employees should keep their phone tucked away in their coat or bag. However, for those workers who are parents and might want to keep their phone in sight at all times, Jacqueline says it’s okay to keep it on your desk, but to make sure it’s on silent.

2. Text minimally

In this day and age, texting is inevitable in our society. We text all the time and at any time, but, Jacqueline points out that while some people do use their personal cellphones for work, it can be hard to know what’s a personal text and what’s work-related.

“It depends on your position in the company and what’s going on in your life,” says Jacqueline about how much texting you can do at work. “But I wouldn’t want my boss to see me texting all the time because it looks like you’re not doing your job. Some people are doing business work on their phones, but that’s a conversation you should have with your boss so that they will know if you’re using your phone for personal and work uses.”

3. Take personal calls away from your desk

If you have to make a personal phone call or receive one that you have to answer, the first rule of thumb is to step away from your desk or excuse yourself from a meeting. If you do have to step away fro ma meeting or desk, Jacqueline advises to keep it as brief as possible.

“Some people work in a big office without dividers, but others might have their own office or some privacy,” Jacqueline explains. “I would suggest walking away from everyone or if you have an office, to just close the door and take the call. If there’s nowhere else in the office to go, step outside or go out into the lobby area.”

4. Keep your voice down

When we talk on the phone, we often tend to shout because our volume increases if we’re not sure the other person can hear us. At work, this can be very annoying for those around you.

“Keep your voice down–that’s the main thing,” notes Jacqueline. “Stay clear of heated subjects on the phone too. And if people are within earshot, don’t talk about any confidential content.”

5. Don’t get caught checking your phone

It can be tough to keep your hands off your phone, but even if your intention is to do something work-related, it can be tempting to check Facebook or Instagram if you have those apps on your smartphone.

“As long as it’s not taking away from your productivity, you could look at your phone every fifteen minutes,” suggests Jacqueline. “But, normally employers will frown upon someone who puts their phone before their career, so use your best judgment.”

6. Silent your ringer

Phone ringers are loud, annoying and most people have the same one. So when one phone ringer goes off, everyone starts looing for his or her phone.

The best way to avoid obnoxious ringing at work is to keep your ringer on silent.  If you forget to turn your ringer off and your phone starts ringing, Jacqueline says you should turn it off immediately. If you need to respond to it,  just send a quick text message that mentions you are at work and cannot talk on the phone.

7. Don’t listen to voicemails on speaker

If your work phone or cell phone has voicemails that you want to check, you might be inclined to use your speakerphone so you can listen and jot down any notes. But at work, this can be obnoxious and you may not know if a voicemail is going to contain confidential information.

“If you have a headset on your work phone, use it,” says Jacqueline. “Or just pick up the receiver. You shouldn’t listen to voicemails on speaker.”

8. Don’t bring your phone to a meeting

If you have to bring your phone with you everywhere, Jacqueline suggests keeping it hidden in your pocket or purse. But, the number one rule is to not put the phone on the table, especially during a one-on-one meeting or conference. Doing so signals to everyone else in the room that they do not have your undivided attention.

9. Avoid using Bluetooth earpieces at work

Some people love using a Bluetooth headset to take phone calls and multi-task, but the downside of using this type of ear piece is that most people tend to talk much louder.

“Normally people who use a Bluetooth earpiece talk louder, so I’m not a big fan of them,” says Jacqueline. “I think it’s a conversation you should have with your employer to determine if they find it appropriate for your office. But, if you do use one, you need to be even more aware of how loud you are being.”

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