Get your hand off it — mobile phone use on-site

In NSW, the 2020 road safety campaign “Get your hand off it” was launched to curb mobile phone use while driving. It’s been celebrated for its double entendre, and wit — something rarely seen in government advertising.

But its message also extends to the workplace. Tradies using personal devices on-site grinds ours and customers gears.

From the business owner perspective (yours), they could be having a quick scroll through social media, whilst on the clock. But, from a customer perspective, it looks unprofessional — especially if you are charging an hourly rate.

In truth, many tradies do use their personal devices whilst on-site, but primarily for work purposes.

As their boss, you’re likely to give them the benefit of the doubt and not think twice about it. Your customers are less likely to do so.

If your client feels your tradies are using their device for personal use whilst on the job, this could affect what they think about your business, their repeat use of your services, their word of mouth rating, or lead to an argument over the final cost of the job.

That’s why it’s so important to explain to your tradies the importance of minimising their phone use at work.

If they are truly using their device for work purposes, provide them with an alternative device owned by the business. iPads and other tablets look much more professional on-site and there is a high trust factor that they are work-only devices.

However, in a situation where a personal mobile device needs to be used —  ask your team to simply be upfront with the customer about what they are using it for ie. Voxer messages to the team. This will ease concerns around time-wasting and shows a high level of professionalism from your staff.

So how can you ensure your tradies aren’t using their phones on-site, if you’re not there?

The basic truth is you can’t —  and it comes down to hiring the right people. Be clear and firm with your no personal devices on-site policy ensure they understand.

This is especially critical with the younger generation, who are overly attached to their personal devices.

Some trade business owners have introduced the ‘glove box policy.’ This is where whilst in transit between work sites or whilst on lunch break, personal device use is fine. However, once you reach the site your personal device must be placed in the glove box and only the work provided tablet / iPad be taken on-site.

This eliminates the temptation to respond to personal notifications and gives a great impression on the client. It also strikes a great balance for your staff, as they clearly understand the expectation to leave the phone behind but also still gives them the opportunity to engage with it on breaks.

Overall mobile phone use is increasing and is something that every trade business owner will have to manage. It’s equally important to evaluate your own use of personal devices on-site, as you set the example for your team — being the boss doesn’t give you a free pass! 

Key take outs:

  1. Tell your tradies to get their hand off it.
  2. Clients will always see mobile device use as personal, and not give your staff the benefit of the doubt. 
  3. Be clear on your expectations around personal device use on-site. 
  4. Be upfront with the client.
  5. Evaluate your own use of mobile device use on-site.