We have a relaxed work environment where listening to music with headphones is allowed in many circumstances. This seems to result in a significant part of the day being spent looking for next track, or being distracted by incoming texts etc. Short of banning phones completely does anyone have experience on how to encourage sensible use?

  • 1
    if you are a manager simply tell them the policy then write them up for not following it after they have been told. If you aren't a manager, there nothing you can do. Just be the best you you can be – SaggingRufus Jul 20 '17 at 12:14
  • 9
    Is productivity at risk? Is work getting done? Don't fix problems if they don't exist – HorusKol Jul 20 '17 at 12:21
  • 1
    A policy of requiring people to switch their phones to silent can help avoid distracting others with incoming texts, if that's part of the problem. I know I personally would find hearing phone sounds all day to be extremely distracting. – Bernhard Barker Jul 20 '17 at 12:32
  • 1
    Adding obstacles to my distractions just creates a new one: circumventing them and spreading that information to my similarly annoyed coworkers. Plus I get the added ego boost of undermining management. – sleddog Jul 20 '17 at 12:49
  • 2
    Is the work getting done? – Old_Lamplighter Jul 20 '17 at 13:45

Manage to results not minutiae - there doesn't need to be a specific policy around the distractions from phones in the same way there doesn't need to be one for staring at a particularly interesting crack on the wall. If a particular employee's productivity is dropping then address that with them.

  • I like this answer. Short and to the point. Results should indeed be important and solution should be individual. Maybe people actually work better if they can check there phone once in a while, then to be concerned being disconnected. – Jeroen Jul 20 '17 at 14:58

I prefer the approach of trust.

Some people prefer to work with music. Other people like the freedom to use a personal device to access social media or personal communication (phone calls, texts). As a general policy, unless there are any kind of security or privacy considerations, I think it is appropriate to allow employees to have personal devices at their desk.

Any problems related to people being distracted should be dealt with on an individual basis. If your employees are recording hours and you suspect that they are charging significant quantities of time spent on non-work activities to customer accounts or if your employees are not meeting their commitments, you can deal with those specifically. However, if time is properly accounted for and work is being done, does it really matter?

Of course, this is geared towards leads and managers. If you aren't in a management position, you should simply focus on doing your own work and doing the right thing. If coworkers are doing things that impact their ability to work with the team, then you should raise these concerns to your manager and let them investigate and resolve the problem. If your coworkers are simply distracting you (for example, listening to music so loud you can hear it, not turning their phones to vibrate or silent, their phones are vibrating in a way that you can hear), you should let them know and nicely ask them to do something to remedy the situation so you can work.


You can choose to install some software which blocks certain sites. This way you can block facebook / messenger / snapchat and other social networks, but still allow people to read the news, listen to music, ...

This will result in people spending less time on their phone.

If you want to limit the amount of time spent on searching for music or texting, it think it is best to have a coach talk to the person in question and to bring up the issue.

Putting the phones away or limiting the time per person on their phone is not a good idea for the overall atmosphere.

  • 2
    -1. Blocking certain websites is just going to piss your employees off. If your employees aren't happy, it goes hand in hand that they wont be productive, and the probably wont stay very long either. This is the wrong way to handle this situation. Also, they can just use mobile data to circumvent this. – DCON Jul 20 '17 at 12:22
  • Why would it piss people off? You're at your job to work, not to look at funny pictures online. Blocking certain sites enforces this – Houbie Jul 20 '17 at 12:25
  • 1
    Society is rife with examples of how blocking people from doing things is by far the least effective way of stopping people from doing things. – DCON Jul 20 '17 at 12:28
  • 5
    @DCON blocking people from doing things works. That's how we stopped the usage of drugs in the USA, we simply made them illegal and everybody..... oooops, nevermind – Old_Lamplighter Jul 20 '17 at 12:34
  • 1
    Complete waste of time and resources: you can just use a VPN app on your phone and surf porn all day on the company's dime. Blocking is not the answer here. It's not even a bandaid solution. – sleddog Jul 20 '17 at 12:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .