I work as a software developer in an IT service company. Our office has about 50 people. Usually we have our phones on silent mode. Once in a while (approx 1-2 times a month) a phone goes off, since the employee has forgotten to put it on silent mode. Even the amount of time the ringtone we hear is about 2-3 seconds. I don't know why (which I feel) a silly thing like this bothers our manager. One day when a phone went off for 2 seconds, he sent a warning email to office if this repeats again he will disallow phones at work desks. The employee whose phone went off apologized to him replying (all) to his email.

Is this issue so grievous that my manager has to send an email warning to make no phones at work desk? I believe he will do it if it happens and it is bound to happen sometime.

Some background: We do not have any clients visiting our office. Our clients are in US. All our employees are well behaved and nice to each other (even our manager).

Is my manager being unreasonable or it is generally what is adhered in tech companies?

  • 1
    @JoeStrazzere I can't do much. This is my first job and only company I worked for. I feel it is important to know what is the norm. If a situation/discussion occurs with my manager when I can speak up on this, I will be able to. – vinni xy Oct 5 '18 at 12:06
  • @vinnixy Exactly, You have no arguing power in the matter whether the norm or not. If your manager does not like it then that's how it goes whether you like it is a different matter – Twyxz Oct 5 '18 at 12:07
  • 1
    @Twyxz I believe I do have some arguing power. We have a yearly feedback thing where he does ask on areas we can improve on work place environment. Usually, he is pretty approachable. Don't know why this one thing bothers him. That's one reason why I had to know what is the norm. – vinni xy Oct 5 '18 at 12:40
  • @vinnixy You will not be able to approach and say let us put our phones on loud or say that "its not a big deal" when he clearly thinks it is – Twyxz Oct 5 '18 at 12:43
  • Are there other noises in your office or is it completely silent aside from the cell phone ringing? – AffableAmbler Oct 5 '18 at 14:16

Is this issue so grievious that my manager has to send an email warning to make no phones at work desk?

There's no definitive standard on the seriousness of this sort of thing - it varies massively from company to company. I've seen the full range from anything goes on ringtones and volume (personal or not) all the way to "if we see a personal phone on your desk you'll be written up". So to my mind allowing personal phones if on silent isn't exactly an onerous condition IMO.

We could speculate on various reasons why this might be a particular topic of annoyance for your manager - maybe he's worked in places before where it's been a real problem and he is determined never let it begin, maybe he just really hates your co-worker's ringtone. We've got no way of knowing.

Ultimately though why it's an issue for him is irrelevent, and to a certain extent so is whether you or anyone else considers it reasonable.

Having your personal phone with you at your desk is (generally) not something you need to do you job nor is an basic employment right like breaktimes etc.

And regardless of where you stand on the question of whether phones should be on silent or not this does seem to have been the accepted practice in your office for some time and it's not like your boss sent this e-mail on the very first occasion that someone forgot to silent their phone. And even then when he did send a mail about it it was a "don't let it happen again" mail rather than jumping straight to banning them.


Is this issue so grievous that my manager has to send an email warning to make no phones at work desk?

No, it isn't.

Based on my experience, this really isn't that big of a deal. Don't you have company supplied desk phones that ring? Having said that, if you like the situation otherwise, I would just put an alarm on my phone to set it to silent or vibrate before I walk in the door..

Is my manager being unreasonable or it is generally what is adhered in tech companies?

In my career, I have never seen such a reaction over the phone ringing, and I work in technology as a software engineer. I have a desk phone, which rings, and I also carry a cell phone for family connectivity.

In short, the manager is definitely over-reacting.

  • We do have desk phones ringing after 4PM (calls from US office). – vinni xy Oct 5 '18 at 12:08
  • @vinnixy What does he say when the desk phone rings? – Mister Positive Oct 5 '18 at 12:10
  • @MisterPositive Nothing, I guess since it is a work call. – vinni xy Oct 5 '18 at 12:30
  • @vinnixy All you really can do is just remember to set your phone on silent or vibrate and encourage others to do the same. Alternatively you could get another job, but in this case its not worth it IMHO. – Mister Positive Oct 5 '18 at 12:46
  • How would your boss know if you received a personal call on your work phone? – Mister Positive Oct 5 '18 at 13:59

Is my manager being unreasonable or it is generally what is adhered in tech companies?

No and No. If your manager feels it is distracting other employees and themselves then he has every right as your manager to be sending out a warning. There is a theory that it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to refocus after being distracted as found through a university study here so maybe your manager is just trying to make sure that his teams productivity is not effected by such a minor distraction.

That being said, in most tech companies they don't mind having phones on desk and even ringing. A lot of people grow to ignore work desk phones when ringing but the human brain picks up distinct and new noises such as a personal mobile ringtone so maybe this is your managers issue.

At the end of the day if your manager is not being overly unreasonable then I think you should just let it slide and put your phones on silent. As of current he allows your phones to be out on desks and I assume use them when needed. If you were to report such an issue your manager would always win, he just needs to say well I'm improving productivity and stopping people from getting distracted and you have no argument against this.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.