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Let's Figure Out Once And For All Phone Etiquette For The Office

Is it OK to check your phone while talking to the boss?

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Phone etiquette is wildly different in the workplace than it is in the social or family world. But workplace phone etiquette also varies wildly from industry to industry, and from workplace to workplace — what seems normal at one office might be considered rude at another. For someone starting at a new job, figuring these rules out can be really complicated: Is it OK to look at your phone while talking to someone (something that might be considered rude outside the office)? Not only that, but who gets to be looking at their phone? Is it OK for underlings to check emails while chatting with the boss? Or is it OK for the boss but not underlings? What about a business lunch? Who freaking knows!

This is an attempt to put a finger on what these unwritten rules might actually be. As always, the results are totally unscientific, but hopefully we can figure some stuff out!

  1. 1. How do you keep your phone notification settings at work?

    Correct
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    Ringer on! Gotta hear it!
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    Vibrate only.
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    Completely silent.
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    I have a custom mix of settings for important messages only.
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1. How do you keep your phone notification settings at work?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Ringer on! Gotta hear it!
  2.  
    vote votes
    Vibrate only.
  3.  
    vote votes
    Completely silent.
  4.  
    vote votes
    I have a custom mix of settings for important messages only.
  1. 2. Do you bring your cell phone to meetings?

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    Yes.
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    No.
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    I have a work phone and a personal phone, and I bring only my work phone.
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2. Do you bring your cell phone to meetings?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No.
  3.  
    vote votes
    I have a work phone and a personal phone, and I bring only my work phone.
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  1. 3. If you bring your phone to meetings, do you check it?

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    Yes, I'll look at work emails, etc....
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    I'll only look if there's something urgent.
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    No, I keep it tucked away during the meeting.
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3. If you bring your phone to meetings, do you check it?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes, I'll look at work emails, etc....
  2.  
    vote votes
    I'll only look if there's something urgent.
  3.  
    vote votes
    No, I keep it tucked away during the meeting.
  1. 4. If you go to lunch with coworkers, do you check your phone?

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    Yes, we might be getting important emails.
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    No, normal dining etiquette prevails — no phones at the table.
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    We all check during a silently designated "phone break", then back to dining.
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4. If you go to lunch with coworkers, do you check your phone?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes, we might be getting important emails.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No, normal dining etiquette prevails — no phones at the table.
  3.  
    vote votes
    We all check during a silently designated "phone break", then back to dining.
  1. 5. If you're talking or meeting with your boss, does he or she check their phone while talking to you?

    Correct
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    Yes.
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    No.
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    Doesn't apply to me.
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5. If you're talking or meeting with your boss, does he or she check their phone while talking to you?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No.
  3.  
    vote votes
    Doesn't apply to me.
  1. 6. If you're talking with your boss, would you look at your own phone?

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    Yes, if I needed to read email.
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    No, it would be rude.
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6. If you're talking with your boss, would you look at your own phone?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes, if I needed to read email.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No, it would be rude.
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  1. 7. Do you check personal messages/social media on your phone at work?

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    Of course. Literally, who doesn't?
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    No, I keep it strictly business.
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7. Do you check personal messages/social media on your phone at work?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Of course. Literally, who doesn't?
  2.  
    vote votes
    No, I keep it strictly business.
  1. 8. If you're the boss, do you think it's rude if your underlings check their phones while talking to you?

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    Yes! It's a pet peeve.
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    No, I understand they may be getting important work messages.
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8. If you're the boss, do you think it's rude if your underlings check their phones while talking to you?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes! It's a pet peeve.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No, I understand they may be getting important work messages.
  1. 9. If you see your boss looking at her phone, is that a green light to look at yours?

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    Yes.
    Correct
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    No.
    Correct
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    No idea — I'd probably just panic.
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9. If you see your boss looking at her phone, is that a green light to look at yours?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No.
  3.  
    vote votes
    No idea — I'd probably just panic.
  1. 10. Do you ever feel like people in your workplace have bad phone etiquette?

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    Yes.
    Correct
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    No, never.
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10. Do you ever feel like people in your workplace have bad phone etiquette?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No, never.
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  1. 11. Do you take personal calls during work?

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    Yes, if it's a family member or something possibly urgent.
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    No, if I see a personal call I'll call them back later.
    Correct
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    Yes, I don't mind chatting away with friends or family during work.
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11. Do you take personal calls during work?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes, if it's a family member or something possibly urgent.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No, if I see a personal call I'll call them back later.
  3.  
    vote votes
    Yes, I don't mind chatting away with friends or family during work.
  1. 12. Do you feel confident you're doing phone etiquette at work the right way?

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    Yes, I understand the situation pretty well.
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    No, I have no idea what I'm doing.
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12. Do you feel confident you're doing phone etiquette at work the right way?
  1.  
    vote votes
    Yes, I understand the situation pretty well.
  2.  
    vote votes
    No, I have no idea what I'm doing.
  1. 13. Generally, what's your workplace like?

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    An office.
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    Retail or service industry where I'm mostly customer-facing.
    Correct
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    Other.
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13. Generally, what's your workplace like?
  1.  
    vote votes
    An office.
  2.  
    vote votes
    Retail or service industry where I'm mostly customer-facing.
  3.  
    vote votes
    Other.

Katie Notopoulos is a senior editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Notopoulos writes about tech and internet culture is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.

Contact Katie Notopoulos at katie@buzzfeed.com.

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