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I started a new job and am in training for the next several weeks. First off, I've never had a job with such formal training where we have a dedicated computer lab with 30 other students that we work in for 8 hours a day.

The instructor said it looks bad when people are on their cellphones in the office and to make good habits now not use them. He even recommended leaving them in our bags. I understand cellphones are often used for playing games but I use mine extensively for work reasons. For example I made a note that we were getting our pictures (for security badges) taken the next day.

Is there something I should say to the instructor or something I can ask about using my smartphone in class? For example:

"Is it okay if I take notes on my phone or do you prefer never to see them?" or "I know people usually play games on their phone but I've got my calendar on mine and may make a few notes on it during class"

Additionally, because of the way the class is run their is often times where I can't do anything. The teacher tends to stop the whole class if one person is having technical problems; once the teacher even stopped the whole class because someone was in the bathroom and he wanted to make sure they heard what he was about to say. During these down times I would appreciate the chance to check my personal email on my phone, as I also have/had another job. Is this okay? This concern comes second to knowing if it's ok to use the phone for productivity/work related reasons.

Someone in class asked if they could use their cellphone on the job if they needed an app that could help with the job they are doing, and the instructor said yes.

The question is, should I ask a clarifying question to the instructor, and if so what? Out of curiosity why do companies care so much? The implicit assumption is that a person isn't using every second directly for work. What difference does it make if someone chooses to take a break on their cellphone vs socializing about non-work related things etc?

  • @JoeStrazzere Some notes regarding work I would like to have saved to my personal account that I can access from home. These notes may be reminders, such as having a picture taken tomorrow (remember to shave) or things regarding pay and benefits. – thisisaname May 18 '17 at 10:46
  • If you are allowed to access personal emails on your work computer, there is really no need to use the cellphone given that you only want to take notes and check mails. – A J 9 May 18 '17 at 10:50
  • @AJ making a quick note on my phone is simpler and I'd prefer not to login to personal accounts on work computer – thisisaname May 18 '17 at 10:52
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    "Someone in class asked if they could use their cellphone on the job if they needed an app that could help with the job they are doing, and the instructor said yes" -- why doesn't this answer your question already? As long as you are not playing around, or giving the appearance of doing so. – Brandin May 18 '17 at 11:46
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    You could alternatively take notes on paper and transfer them to your phone later. – David K May 18 '17 at 12:13
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Basically, you need to understand how strict the company's policy on cellphone usage is in reality. Some companies don't want people to use their cellphones at all while at work, others trust their workers not to abuse them and just hold them accountable for their work. (My wife works as a health professional and is expected not to have her cellphone with her at all. I worked in software - everyone used their cellphones throughout the day. Every situation is different.)

Some of this you will learn by asking questions. The instructor is providing a safe forum in which you can do that. The rest of it you will learn by experience - simply watching what others do and how their managers react to it.

In general, avoid your cellphone while on the job until you fully understand the expectations and consequences.

should I ask a clarifying question to the instructor

Yes.

Since you don't understand what he is trying to teach you, you must ask clarifying questions. Otherwise you will not be able to generalize, absorb and internalize the lesson.

He is trying to tell you how to act professionally on the job. Since you aren't clear, you must ask if checking personal mail is frowned upon or not. And since pretty much everyone will say "I use it to take notes" (even if that's not what they do all the time) you must ask about that.

In the workplace, when you don't understand what someone is telling you - ask questions until you do understand.

During these down times I would appreciate the chance to check my personal email on my phone, as I also have/had another job. Is this ok?

It sounds like "checking personal email" is exactly what you are being told not to do. But if you aren't sure - ask.

What difference does it make if someone chooses to take a break on their cellphone vs socializing about non-work related things etc?

The instructor said it looks bad when people are on their cellphones in the office. If that isn't clear - ask.

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The main reason behind your instructor asking you not to use the cellphone is that it doesn't look professional and your boss/senior colleague wouldn't like that you're not working and just playing with your phone.

Generally using cellphone during work hours is not appreciated, but different companies have different policies regarding this. Therefore, you should check what the rules say or watch your colleagues and learn.

During these down times I would appreciate the chance to check my personal email on my phone, as I also have/had another job. Is this okay?

It depends on company policies and culture.

Since you're not gonna play games and want to use cellphone for just checking mails and taking notes, it is better that you do that on your work computer if you are allowed to.

Should I ask a clarifying question about using cellphone in the office to the instructor?

There is no clear answer for this. It ultimately depends on the way you ask that question and somewhat on the nature of your instructor.

If you don't want to follow above suggestion, you can ask to your instructor like

Sir/Madam, may I use my cellphone to take notes regarding work on calendar?

or vary this as needed.

Or you can also take notes on a paper, which you can transfer after work hours or before leaving from work.

Out of curiosity why do companies care so much? The implicit assumption is that a person isn't using every second directly for work. What difference does it make if someone chooses to take a break on their cellphone vs socializing about non-work related things etc?

Well, they are paying you for every second you spend on workplace and they would like to get worth of their money. That's why they care so much. There are lunch break, tea break etc during which you can do those non-work related things.

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