How to Use Smartphones at Work: A Visual Guide

The New York Times has a funny piece today on the shape-shifting social mores of smart phone use. Can you check email at office meetings? Answer email at office meetings? Keep your Justin Timberlake ring tone on Loud? These are tough questions, and if the article is any indication, there's no clear guide to cell phone use at work. Until now, that is:


Herewith, an semi-official guide to smartphone use at the office. It's not law, just my humble opinion on the hierarchy of smartphone crimes against etiquette. Before you start hating, I'll try to anticipate the most burning questions.

On the issue of phones on the meeting table, an etiquette guide at AskMen.com comes down firmly on the side of never: "Do you leave your BlackBerry out on the table? Shame on you." I couldn't care less. Silence your phone and put it next to your legal pad -- it's perfectly OK in my book. As for strolling around the office answering email, I also have no problem so long as the walkers keep an eye out. What gets my gripe, really, is noise: Ear-blasting ring tones, people who regularly log significant chat hours at their desk, and colleagues who find meetings a suitable time to answer private calls. And in interviews, of course, the answer is always no.
smartphone graph.pngThat's me. What did I get wrong? What did I miss?

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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