Workers lack mobile phone etiquette, says survey

Companies may have to train staff on phone etiquette as mobile phones continue to infiltrate business life.

Companies may have to train staff on phone etiquette as mobile phones continue to infiltrate business life.

With mobile phone penetration already at saturation level, mobile network operators (MNOs) are encouraging businesses to ditch their landlines for mobiles.

Last month, Vodafone launched an "all you can eat for a fixed price" fixed-mobile integration product. Most other mobile network operators are planning or executing similar offerings as they aim to take business away from fixed network operators and PBX makers.

But a survey on attitudes to the use of mobile phones in the workplace by telecommunications company Cable & Wireless found that bad mobile phone manners were rife and introduced new risks.

The survey of more than 1,000 mobile phone users in the UK found that one in 10 had had mobile phones thrown at them, and one in five people had hung up on somebody mid-sentence.

Ten percent of 25-34 year olds had not put the phone down properly, which let the person on the other end overhear a conversation about them. Another 12% had accidentally sent an inappropriate text message to the person under discussion, including their bosses.

The authors said companies need to accept and accommodate Generation Y workers' desire for company phones. However, younger people want just one phone (or BlackBerry-type device), and are prepared to tolerate a degree of being contactable after hours as a result, the survey found.

Those questioned said they would be least happy if their boss called them while they were on holiday, slightly less miffed if the call came on the weekend or outside normal working hours, the researchers found.

Generally, younger people are more accepting of having, even expecting to have, a corporate mobile, while older people are more reluctant. Giving younger people a company phone would make 41% of them feel more responsible, while it would make little difference to older workers' feelings of responsibility.

Phil Grannum, director of enterprise clients for Cable & Wireless Worldwide, said IT departments need to educate and "evangelise" the benefits of mobile, as well as run trials for less enthusiastic groups.

He said younger people are using mobiles in their personal lives and they expect this technology to be available in the workplace. "Young people want technology, but they want it to be simple," he said.

Grannum said Cable & Wireless and Tesco are moving their workforces onto mobile phones based on Cable & Wireless's own Fixed Mobile Convergence (FMC) platform. This makes mobile calls made in the office free because FMC directs mobile calls from the office over the internet.

Photo by Voisin/Phanie/Rex Features

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