I know you guys hate when I talk about actions that you take for granted but that are perhaps inappropriate in the office, but here I go again, raining on your parade. This time I address the smartphone — you know, that gadget that you would keep if you were asked to decide between losing it and a major bodily organ. Here are a few ways that your smartphone can cause problems in your work life.
1. Overusing during meetings
OK, we all know that you're in IT and you have to be available to put out fires on a moment's notice. But if you can't get through an hour-long meeting without texting someone, then it's a bad sign. And nothing can be more insulting to a meeting leader (who, more than likely, is your boss) than if your head is in your smartphone the whole time he or she is talking. Don't confuse "commonplace" with "accepted," because that's not the case. Texting/chatting on your smartphone just sends the message that the person in front of you is less important.
2. Doing too much business with your smartphone
If you do too much business by texting or sending email via your smartphone, it could decrease the appearance of professionalism.
Dana Brownlee, founder of Professionalism Matters, Inc., a practical professional development training and management consulting company, says she is amazed at how often she gets email from PDAs with a disclaimer at the bottom that reads, "Please excuse any typos in this message. It was sent from an iPhone." She says:
The first time I saw that I really thought "Wow, now that's lazy!" I feel like there's been a slow reverse "work ethic" if you will in our daily communications. When I was in college, the expectation was that you proofread before you sent a communication. When I started working, the focus was on using spell check/grammar check, etc. to let technology speed up the editing process. Now, we've graduated to not editing at all and just sending out a disclaimer at the bottom of the message.
It's probably safe to say that millennials might not have a problem with smartphone messages. But there are about 25 percent of people out there who might. Just consider the recipient before you send the message.
3. Putting across the wrong image
If you don't work for Sanrio, yet you carry around an iPhone in a Hello Kitty case, don't be terribly surprised if people question your seriousness. That may be profiling, but people have taken cues from smaller indications than that.
The same goes for ring tones. Yes, it is your unalienable right to have any ring tone you want and it shouldn't affect the way you're perceived as a person, but guess what? It will, at least in a business setting. I don't care whether you have a calliope ring tone or the latest death metal ditty called "Death to all CIOs," you will get judged, however unconsciously it might be.
You don't really have to detach your smartphone from your person but use it wisely in work situations.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.