Ask Linda Miles: What about cellphone usage in the dental office?

April 24, 2012
What do you do if a coworker is constantly checking her cellphone while at work? Linda Miles addresses the subject of cellphone use during office hours.
QUESTION: Linda, what are the rules about cellphone use in the office for dental assistants? One of our assistants keeps her phone in her lab coat pocket and she constantly checks it, whether she’s in the operatory room or sterilization area. I have talked to her about this but she keeps doing it. What would you suggest? Thank you.ANSWER: I believe cellphones should be placed in lockers or a basket in the staff lounge on Off/Locked and only used at break or lunchtime. I once had a client office (four doctors and 20-plus team members) that hired me to fix their time-management issues. They all had their cellphones on because, “We all have elderly parents or small children and we don’t want those types of calls coming through the front desk.” Patients were constantly kept waiting, yet upper and middle management wanted to use their phones, so they did not believe they should have a strict policy on use during office hours.They did not take my advice that if each person in that office spent just 60 minutes per day (off and on) using the phone to call, text, or check Facebook, that added up to 30 hours per week of embezzlement! This behavior is unfair to patients who pay for their time, unfair to business owners because it is lost productivity, and a loss to coworkers who must pick up the slack while a person is distracted.Is there an office policy manual in place in your practice? Is the doctor a strong leader who abides by this policy of cellphone use during office hours? Do you have an office manager who has not only a title, but the authority to enforce the office policy? If not, I highly recommend contacting Bent Ericksen & Associates, the leading dental human resource company; they can create a good office manual for you and help update it annually. Thank you for your question.Author bioLinda Miles is the founder of Linda Miles & Associates (Now Miles Global). She started the The Speaking Consulting Network in 1997. To contact her, click here or call (757) 721-3125.