He’s done it. She’s done it. I’ve done it. You’ve done it. I’m talking about checking your smartphone during a business lunch. Or, worse, during a business meeting. Whenever and wherever you check it, though, can be considered rude, especially when done during work.
Peter Cardon, associate professor of clinical management communication at the USC Marshall’s Center for Management Communication, and Melvin Washington and Ephraim Okoro at Howard University recently released a new study showing that our use and attitudes toward smartphones break down across genders, ages, and regions and that they change over time.
“Hiring managers often cite courtesy as among the most important soft skills they notice,” Cardon said. “By focusing on civility, young people entering the workforce may be able to set themselves apart.”
Cardon and colleagues sampled more than 550 full-time employees to understand what they perceive as acceptable, courteous, or rude smartphone behavior in the workplace. They also asked employees who earned at least $30,000 a year to list behaviors that were either okay or rude.
“Not surprisingly, millennials and younger professionals were more likely to be accepting of smartphone use, but they might be doing themselves a disservice,” Cardon said. “In many situations, they rely on those older than them for their career advancement.”
Several findings were discovered. You ready for lots of bullet points? I thought so.
- 76 percent of study participants said checking texts or emails was unacceptable behavior in business meetings.
- 87 percent said answering a call was rarely or never acceptable in business meetings.
- 66 percent said writing or sending a text message is inappropriate even during an informal business lunch.
- Men were nearly twice as likely as women to consider mobile phone use acceptable at a business lunch. More than 59 percent of men said it was fine to check text messages at a power lunch, compared to 34 percent of women who thought checking texts was appropriate.
- 50 percent of men said it was acceptable to answer a call at a power lunch, compared to 26 percent of women.
- Professionals from the West Coast were less accepting of mobile phone use in meetings than people from the East Coast.
- Higher-income professionals had less tolerance for smartphone use in business meetings.
- 66 percent of people under 30 said texting or emailing was acceptable, compared to just 20 percent of those aged 51-65.
- 20 percent of professionals said simply having your phone out at a business lunch is rude.
- More than 30 percent still found saying “excuse me” to be rarely or never appropriate during informal or offsite lunch meetings.
(Image via Flickr: Maik Meid/Creative Commons)