13 phone behaviors that are totally inappropriate in the workplace

Unless you work from home, your smartphone might be a liability at the office.

the list phones in workplace
Flickr: Jeffrey Zeldman

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You might work in a casual, trendy, millennial-laden office where hoodies and Birkenstocks are the definition of business casual, but that doesn’t mean you should add your boss on Snapchat. Even the “cool” offices have to decide who (and who not) to promote, so you can be sure somebody is taking note of how often you text during meetings. Here are 13 breaches of smartphone workplace etiquette that could end up costing you your job:

Texting during a meeting

Texting your coworker at a meeting might be the 2015 version of passing notes, but trust me, your boss isn’t amused.

Playing games during a meeting

Props to you if you can play Candy Crush while also pretending to pay attention to quarterly reports, but your multi-tasking skills are more likely to get you in trouble than anything. When you’re inevitably interrupted, you’ll fail at both winning participation points and whatever game you’re playing.

Looking at your phone at all during a meeting

It’s probably unrealistic to ask people to leave their phones behind in a meeting, but everyone notices when you sneak a glance at your lap. You are literally not fooling anyone. Sure, you might have just been checking the time, but that’s not what your coworkers will think.

Answering personal calls on the clock

The thing about cubicle farms is that everyone can hear you when you pick up that phone call from your mom. Including the person who signs your paycheck. Think about that.

Putting your phone on the table during a business lunch

Putting your phone on the table is usually considered pretty rude. If you’re having lunch with coworkers or a client, you’re basically telling them that random people who like your Instagram photos are more important to you than they are.

Checking your phone while you’re talking to another person

Having a face-to-face convo with your boss? DON’T LOOK AT YOUR PHONE. There, I just got you a promotion.

Taking work calls in the bathroom

First: You should never take a phone call while you’re sitting on the toilet. We won’t say anything, but we can totally hear you flush (even when you time your sneezes). Second: Even if you’re not flushing, you don’t know who’s in the stall next to you. (Or when they’re going to flush.)

Adding your boss on Snapchat

There’s literally no good reason to add your boss on a social media platform that was originally invented to secretly share nudes. Not even one. Not even if you work at Snapchat.


Your higher-ups may not be totally in the know when it comes to social media, but HR people can definitely decode the shade in your subtweets. Best case scenario—you get in trouble for tweeting on the job.

Taking selfies

Unless you’re doing something awesome, like scaling a mountain or shooting rockets into space for work, there’s really no reason to take a selfie. Let’s not make the cubicle selfie a thing, please.

Not putting your phone in silent mode

Nobody wants to hear your crappy ringtone.

…and having an unprofessional ring tone

Nobody wants to hear your crappy, expletive-laden ringtone.

Leaving your phone unlocked

It’s like you want nosy coworkers to snoop. Bonus points if you have company secrets on your phone.

This story, "13 phone behaviors that are totally inappropriate in the workplace" was originally published by Greenbot.

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