3 Ways to Foster Positive Cell Phone Use at Work

As I landed back in NYC at 11pm, nearly every person around me reached for their phones to turn off Airplane Mode. My biggest concern was booking my car to get home as soon as possible, but as I looked around, it was Instagram and Facebook that people were clicking on first.

If we are this addicted connected while traveling, how bad is it when we are in the office? According to Fortune, an average worker spends a full work day doing things other than work, with nearly five hours per week being spent on their cell phones.  The younger your team, the worse it gets!

Here’s the thing, so often, we create rules or punishments around the behavior of which we don’t approve. “No cell phones allowed,” or, “Excuse me, Melissa, please put your phone away.” Rather than embarrass or punish, here are a few creative ways to play with the distractions:

1. Free lunch?

Can’t bear to separate from your phone for whatever reason? Set up a lunch fund with your team. Anytime anyone’s phone goes off in a meeting, agree on a set price you donate to the quarterly or monthly lunch fund. If no one’s phone goes off and no money was added to the fund, free lunch! (On the company, with approval, of course.)

2. Use code words to acknowledge cell phone use.

Don’t you love it when you find out you lost a game you didn’t even know you were playing? Sometimes, we just get an itch to reach for our phone and mindlessly scroll as we “listen” in a meeting. Set a community standard in advance where anytime you are caught with your phone by someone saying the magic word, like, “Eurythmic.” Keep tallies of times said and try to beat your “score” every day. Bonus points if you look up and use strange words in the English language and teach other its etymology.

3. Start your meetings with a Google scavenger hunt.

How old is Cher’s maternal grandfather? What are the latitude/longitude points of Maria Shriver’s hometown? How many miles from Shanghai to Memphis, Tennessee going east? Going west? How long would it take to walk from San Fransisco to Chicago? The first person to answer correctly in 15 seconds or less, wins. Get the thumb typing out of the way at the beginning of a meeting and have a little fun while you’re at it! Then, put your phones away.

Do you have creative ways to help your team stay engaged without punishing or embarrassment when it comes to cell phone use? Share in the comments below.

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