Every now and then the age-old chestnut of cell phones in the dental practice rears its head.

It’s an interesting discussion, and its usually raised by a dental practice where staff use of their mobile phones during work time has reached epidemic proportions.

So, when considering what we need to do, as is the case with most business decisions, we need to have a good look at the numbers, because the numbers will tell the story.

But before we do that, let’s understand the reasoning from both sides of the argument as to whether we should allow staff members to carry cell phones on them during work hours.

Firstly, the carrying and checking of cell phones by staff during work hours represents a distraction from the task at hand.

Whenever a phone beeps, dings or vibrates, that’s a distraction. Looking at the phone display screen is also a distraction.

Those who say that THEY NEED THEIR PHONE in case there is an emergency or an urgent call from their child care or school, do have a valid argument..

Now, what do the numbers say?

A recent survey showed that on average, an employee looks at their cell phone screen on and off for a total of fifty-four minutes every working day.

Multiplying that out by five days per week and 48 weeks per year gives us a total of 216 hours per year spent looking at a personal cell phone screen, while being paid to do work.

That’s five weeks and three days and two hours of paid time each year spent looking at personal stuff on a personal cell phone.

The argument about needing to be contacted urgently is a Furphy.

If a staff member needs to be contacted urgently by a relative or by day care or by a school, they can easily be phoned at the dental practice on the practice’s main phone line.

After all, that’s what we used to do back in the 1980s and earlier, before cell phones were ever invented.

Every time you look at your cell phone while you are on the clock at work you are stealing.

If you are being paid to do work then you should be doing work.

Looking at your phone for as few seconds when you have a chance during work hours is wrong because you really should be doing something else that is work related and productive for your dental practice.

When you look at your cell phone during work hours you are stealing time and also money from your employer.

You are also stealing time from your work colleagues who you are being paid to support.

And you are stealing time from your patients and paying customers who are buying, or paying for your time and attention.

There is no “just a quick glance”….

There is no QUICK GLANCE at your device.

And that includes iWatches as well.

Patients and other team members will notice when your eyes are not 100% on the job at hand.

And patients will show their dissatisfaction by simply taking their business elsewhere.

I once saw this:

In 2014 in a mini-mart in Paris, I watched a cashier scrolling through her messages on her phone during the few seconds of time between my card being swiped and the EFTPOS machine printing out the transaction receipt.

No word of a lie…

Her cell phone was positioned between the register and the EFTPOS machine.

This was a SERIOUS CUSTOMER SERVICE FAIL.

Should our dental practice implement a zero cell phone policy?

I truly believe that when people are at work and are being paid to work they need to remove distractions that prevent them from performing their duties.

If you and your team are dead serious about creating a world class experience for each and every patient of your practice, then a zero cell phone policy needs to be one of your dental practice non-negotiable policies.

And thinking logically, if you are working for 38 hours per week, there are another 130 hours each week for you to look at your cell phone for as much or as long as you want on your own time.

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