The Negative Affects of Cell Phones in the Workplace


Distractions in the Workplace
5 Etiquette Lessons for the Workplace, 2012

Cell phone usage of employees produces negative effects in the workplace regarding their performance and relationships. Cell phones have become a major issue causing employees to become distracted, which affects their quality of work.  The use of the cell phone at work can become a danger, affecting people’s happiness and influencing the way relationships are built.

Today, people are constantly checking social media accounts and emails through the cell phone because it has become an electronic drug that often yanks us away from the physical world.  Like any other addiction, we sacrifice the number and quality of our relationships with others, especially at work.  We should connect with co-workers at our day-to-day job, but cell phones give us the ability to access many applications such as Facebook and Twitter instantly to interact with others who are not physically present.  Relationships in the real world are affected when they are substituted for electronic ones.  It may feel more comfortable to connect with someone online or through the phone, but co-workers need to understand the problems that need to be fixed.  Using electronic media, such as sending a text message, may make confrontation easier, but it is not as effective (Bittman).

Another problem that arises comes from the distractions of a cell phone that can affect the employees’ work ethic.  Researchers from The University of Waterloo conducted a study where they investigated the roles of wireless handheld technology within three organizations including private and public sectors.  The individuals that were tested attempted to multitask by using technology to combine their work and personal lives. The researchers found that each employee within the private and public sectors of organizations changed the way they interacted at work due to the distractions of the cell phone by altering their message contexts, social etiquette, self-impressions, and ways of completing work within a business.  There were high expectations within the workplace to balance work and personal lives through technology such as the cell phone.  The cell phone created too many distractions in order to balance and complete the work necessary in the office (Schlosser).

The quality of work is also decreasing due to problems related to the cell phone. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Lab completed a study to observe how multitasking would affect the quality of the participants work.  The researchers found that the average office worker gets about 11 minutes in-between each interruption, but takes about 25 minutes to return to completing the original task after each interruption.  The person multitasking is trying to engage in constant context switching.  They are trying to work on completing a certain task while dealing with the distractions and interruptions of a cell phone.  This can affect the quality of work produced.  During the workday, the levels of staying connected to the cell phone should decrease due to a higher demand for focusing on work-related tasks (Goggin).

The cell phones are also affecting our happiness at work.  For example, texting can be misleading because you cannot actually hear the tone of the message the person is trying to get across.  Also, new terms are being used to express our emotions through texting.  For example, people type “LOL” to describe laughing, but it is not a substitute to actually hearing someone laugh, which has the power to lift our spirits and contribute to our happiness.  It is important to interact with co-workers.  The effects we have on each other are more intimate in person rather than through technology.  We have the ability to change a person’s mood.  The more time spent interacting with others in the physical world could benefit to our overall happiness and contribute to building positive relationships at work (Lickerman).

The cell phone has prevented employees the ability to communicate clearly.  The use of technology though emails, texts, and tweets on the cell phone have influenced the meanings behind the messages being delivered and has changed the way we communicate (JISTPub).

There is a danger directly linked to the problems caused by cell phones and people are being affected by social media daily.  Anyone can send harmful text messages by exploiting their comments through a cell phone.  This makes it very easy to impulsively share private information.  They can exchange messages that become misinterpreted.  There is a border between personal and profession life. And the use of cell phones can connect these two (Gross).

Researchers question if the cell phone is benefitting the job market.  David E. Nye, a Professor of American History at the University of Southern Denmark and writer of Technology Matters: Questions to Live With asks, “Does technology destroy jobs, or create new opportunities?”  He believes that technology has caused people to find jobs that require boring and repetitive work.  Technology’s new advancements have replaced tasks in the work force, which could lead to negative affects.

People were able to communicate clearly and build strong relationships before the invention of the cell phone.  They were able fulfill job related tasks without relying on technology.  Therefore, we are capable of existing without depending on technology.  Today, people are too connected and we need to learn to cope without using the cell phone constantly because it affects us at work and in the world around us.

Works Cited

Bittman, Michael. “Have Mobile Phones Changed the Way We Work?” Strategy and Business, 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 24 Oct. 2013. <>

Goggin, Gerard. Cell Phone Culture: Mobile Technology in Everyday Life. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print.

Gross, Jessica. “Texting as a “miraculous thing”: 6 ways our generation is redefining communication.” TED: Ideas Worth Spreading, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 5 Nov. 2013. <>

JISTPub. “Workplace Comunication Skills”. YouTube, 8 July. 2011. Online video clip. 30 Nov. 2013. <>

Klee, Paul. 5 Etiquette Lessons for the Workplace. 2012. On The Job. Web. 30 Nov 2013. <>

Lickerman, Alex. “The Effects Of Technology On Relationships.” Happiness in this World. June 2010. Web. 5 Nov. 2013 <>

Nye, David. Technology Matters: Questions to Live With. New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 2007. Print. 

Schlosser, Francine K. “So, How Do People Really Use Their Handheld Devices? An Interactive Study of Wireless Technology Use.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 23 (2002): 401-423. Print.