Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Texting at work—inappropriate or efficient?

Technology…Can’t live with it, can’t live without it. In today’s work environment we might find ourselves managing people with a wide range of opinions about texting at work. Some text as a primary vehicle for communicating. Some accept texting as a norm, and support the efficiencies of texting at work. While others are appalled by the fact that it’s allowed in the workplace at all.

How can we discount or forbid a behavior at work that is fast becoming the norm for communications for young and/or tech-savvy professionals? Not very easily, especially when it’s difficult to judge whether an individual is utilizing texting for a work-related efficiency, or a personally-related distraction.

Young mothers may be texting their babysitters to check on their infant children, or are texting a one-liner to their school-age kids (i.e., r u home?). Yet before texting was available, these check-ins traditionally required a full conversation—and added distraction—on the phone. Assistants are texting their executive managers about what’s needed for their next important meeting. Colleagues who are running late are texting…”on my way”, and professionals are, more and more, utilizing their phones and palm devices to take meeting notes. At the same time, there are those individuals who are repeatedly texting friends for purely social reasons, when they should be working!

As managers of people who are experiencing this conflict, we may be responsible to provide a standard that creates a balance of what is acceptable for our tech-savvy, and our more traditional non-texting, employees.

Here’s the good news. Face-to-face communication can still work! If you or your employees are challenged with the texting issue in your work environment, you might consider engaging and charging a mix of employees, to come together for a discussion. Their objectives may include: acknowledging their differences of opinions and experience with texting; discussing the pros and cons of texting; and coming up with some texting guidelines that they all agree they can live with. It may not be easy, or a full solution, but it’s a start.

So, is texting at work inappropriate or efficient? Both! C U L8r!


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