Is Rude Phone Behavior at Work the New Normal?

Let’s face it, phone etiquette now borders somewhere between horrible and nonexistent. In an enterprise, bad phone behavior leads to miscommunications, misunderstandings, and the misuse of time and resources. Getting control of this situation is daunting, particularly because rudeness is now routine and obliviousness is the new normal.

According to project management firm Workfront (formerly AtTask), the problem threatens to “tear apart the very fabric of the workplace.” The firm has introduced the “Game of Phones,” a cheeky look at the topic, but one that bears serious consideration. Here are the seven houses of misbehavior:

House of Multitasking. Fifty percent of the general population considers texting or taking calls during meetings rude. Unfortunately, these individuals invite the ire of those who mistakenly believe they are “getting more done” by texting during meetings.

House of Awkwardness. Three-quarters of adults surveyed admit they use their mobile phones in the bathroom and carry on business conversations there. While it’s probably not fair to describe this as a complete waste, one can only hope they wash up afterward.

House of Carelessness. Nearly four in 10 respondents consider loud conference calls rude. Yet, individuals routinely use their speakerphones in crowded offices or forget to silence their mobile phones during meetings.

House of Courtesy. These individuals dart out of meetings due to personal calls. Overall, 24 percent of the workers said they spend at least an hour a day handling personal calls.

House of Overcalling. These zealots can’t wait for a recipient to call back after leaving a voicemail—or they just serial call until they get the victim. Overcallers typically harass cubicle neighbors and faraway colleagues with equal impunity.

House of Non-Communication. This individual engages in a steady stream of disjointed calls. He or she continually puts others on hold while switching back and forth between mobile and office phones. Consequently, the “multitasker” has trouble resolving just about any matter.

House of Obliviousness. No, it isn’t your imagination. The average person speaks three  times louder on the phone than in person. And many of these loudmouths seem ignorant of their surroundings, and often engage in discussions about personal or inappropriate topics.

If you find yourself or a colleague guilty of engaging in any of these behaviors, you might want to drop a copy of this blog or the Workfront infographic on their desk. Just don’t call!