By now, everyone should know using a cellphone while driving is bad. But what about during that next business meeting?
A study published last week in Business Communication Quarterly from researchers at Howard University and the University of Southern California examined what American business professionals consider appropriate or civil mobile phone behavior in the workplace.
It was inspired by prior studies detailing an increased perception of incivility in American society.
"Many scholars and social commentators observe that American society is increasingly uncivil, even compared to five to 10 years ago," the study authors wrote. "The workplace is no exception, with research showing that half of all employees report being treated uncivilly at work at least once per week."
In particular, inappropriate mobile phone use has been listed as either a cause or symptom of this increasing incivility.
To examine cellphone behaviors in the workplace, Howard and USC researchers conducted two polls.
One asked 204 employees at an East Coast beverage distributor if they had recently observed disrespectful cellphone use in the workplace, and then listed examples of the behavior. The other was a random-sample survey of 350 U.S. business professionals asking for their perceptions of what is and is not appropriate mobile phone use.
Almost half of the beverage company workers complained a boss or co-worker had disrespected them by taking calls, sending text messages and browsing the internet during meetings.
"Just bringing phones to the meeting shows disrespect," one worker wrote.