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Should managers adhere to no-cellphone policies?

no cell phones sign

Question:

We have a no cellphones at work policy, but it doesn’t seem to apply to managers, including for personal use. Is that allowed?

– Pradeep Gaihre, Server, Pattaya Street, Kharghar, India

Answer:

We previously discussed cellphone policies for restaurant staff. As phones become more and more a lifeline, command center and extension of our brains and hands, this will continue to be a challenge. My feeling is that they distract staff from prioritizing guests and introduce an unnecessary and unsanitary item into a foodservice setting. My overall recommendation was to not allow employee cellphones in the restaurant: “As for [employees] using their phones to make calls or send messages, the best policies liken it to a restroom or smoke break. It should be private, fast, infrequent, never done during a busy time, and employees must always wash their hands before returning to work.”

Your question of whether that policy should apply to management introduces a new dimension. Managers increasingly use their personal phones to log into POS systems and view security cameras, take calls and questions from employees and vendors, and get texts from VIP guests or managers at other locations looking to seat some overflow guests or borrow some ketchup. A restaurant manager’s cellphone is basically their office, and the benefit of that office over the traditional one in a corner of the kitchen is it keeps the manager on the floor longer, interacting with guests and mentoring servers, rather than holed up on the phone or the computer. 

The problem, of course, is that managers are prone to the same distractions on one’s phone as a line-level employee, and guests (and even employees) may think a manager visibly on her or his phone is disinterested. Further, if there is good reason for management to disallow cellphones for other employees, what message are they sending by using them? My advice is that managers should make an effort to keep to the policy of the restaurant. Tablet devices can do most of what phones can do, are easier to clean and more sanitary as they are not held near the face, keep managers on the floor, and look more polished than texting away on a phone or sitting behind a laptop screen, when necessary. As technologies evolve, we will revisit.

More on employee cellphone policies here.

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