For many of us in today’s connected world, our cell phones or other mobile devices have become like another appendage. Some of us take our personal handheld devices to work to be reachable by family members. Others have devices provided to us through our work so that we can be reachable anywhere, even at home. Either way, it is important to demonstrate your professional presence by knowing when it is and isn’t appropriate to pull out your phone.
Tips to Encourage Professional Presence and Work-Life Balance in a Connected World
1. If you need to be reachable, then keep your phone with you on vibrate so you can be reached without the latest musical ringtone disturbing your co-workers or interrupting a business meeting.
2. Don’t check email, send text messages, or surf the web on your mobile device during business meetings, unless of course it is important to the matter at hand.
3. Don’t answer the telephone during business meetings or more formal conversations unless it is urgent. (Establish a signal with your family or childcare provider ahead of time, such as two phone calls in short succession. Also clarify for those who need to get in touch with you what constitutes an emergency that you would need to leave an important meeting to address. If there is someone they should call first, such as your spouse, make sure they have the proper contact phone numbers.)
If you receive an urgent call, in order to maintain your professionalism in the workplace, quietly slip out to answer the emergency call and only give verbal excuses if it won’t be disruptive to others.
4. Don’t speak loudly or publicly about private matters on the phone, since this is likely to distract your co-workers. Instead, shut your office door for the short time it takes you to resolve personal matters, and then open your door again, or walk away from your workstation if you work in close quarters in order find a more private place to talk. In general, to maintain professional presence, don’t have protracted personal conversations at work unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
5. Maintain work-life balance by trying to keep work calls at work and personal calls at home. Don’t answer a work call during a family meal, bedtime stories, birthday party, or other special family time unless it is an emergency. And again, consider establishing a signal that indicates a more urgent matter.
6. if you are not a doctor on call or another person who is immediately needed, then establish a daily phone-free, computer-free time for an hour or two or three to focus on your time with your family and help maintain work-life balance. Don’t make a habit of surfing the Internet in the playroom or on date night. If you’re more present with your family during family time, it may be easier to maintain professionalism in the workplace when you are at the office.