New York’s finest: silence your cells!

Almost all of us got our start working in a pizzeria for someone else.You can probably remember how much you hated “company policies,” butnow that you’re an owner, you better understand why they were put inplace. There are reasons why we don’t want people in the kitchen wearingrings or dangling earrings. Either of these could accidentally end upon, or in, someone’s food. When something like this does happen, it cankill a business. Too many times, a restaurant has made headlines becauseof a customer finding random objects in their food.

Speaking of company policies, there’s a new one that should be consideredif you haven’t already addressed it. It’s high time to discuss cellphone etiquette in the workplace, specifi cally in restaurants and pizzerias.How many times have you walked into a fast food place or sit downrestaurant and started answering some employee you thought was talkingto you when they were actually talking to a friend with one of thoseearpieces for their phone? How many times have you been placing anorder and saw an order taker or waitstaff member reach down and pullout a phone to check a call or look at a text message? It’s very annoyingas a customer.

Many employees, pizza chefs, servers and cooks believe they have theright to keep a cell phone on during work hours—and answer it whenit rings! Many know it’s not right to talk on the phone while working,so they use text instead…they may as well be talking. Recently, manycompanies have started prohibiting people from carrying and using amobile phone in the workplace.

Unfortunately, when it comes to cell phones, it seems the rules of commonsense have fallen by the wayside. Do you think that cell phones arean important form of communication during work hours? Pizzerias areplaces where timing and speed are essential to maximum performance.Employers count on fast, busy times to make up for slower periods. If anemployee is permitted to be distracted on a regular basis, what happenswhen the shift demands full-throttle speed? Not only that, how dedicatedto the customer’s needs are they when they are punching out textmessages or reading them? In your customers’ eyes…not very.

In general, employers want happy employees. For this reason, breaksare scheduled to allow employees time to use the restroom, take a foodbreak and make phone calls. This should be sufficient for most shifts. Ifan employer is providing breaks, they are within reason to ask an employeeto curb their distractions during work hours.

In my opinion, cell phones should be turned off during working hours.When an employee has the phone on it takes away time and concentration.I don’t think it’s too much to ask for an employee to go without theirphone for three hours and fifteen minutes (or until their shift break).

On the same note, when an employer asks for overtime or extra workand the employee needs to make a phone call, the employee should askthe manager for five minutes to make the call. This way the path is clearand there’s no misunderstanding. The employee can still feel connectedto their daily life, but at the same time, it will show that all employeesare being treated equally. When other employees view a coworker onthe phone they tend to think that they’re slacking off and not doing anything.If they have asked or made their calls according to policies, theworkflow will be smoother and the moral of coworkers much higher.

Employers should not feel bad for establishing policies for their employeesto follow. I explain the rules and make it clear that if an employeereceives a call during working hours, I expect them to handle it accordingto our company policies.

I value employees who lead by example and don’t overstep the boundariesof our company cell phone policy. We just want to run a safe and efficient pizzeria and we’re only asking that our employees be reasonableand use common sense. You may not have to require phones be turnedoff , but at least leave them in a purse, car or break room. If a true emergencyoccurs, most parents know how to call the restaurant. Besides that,flour isn’t good for cell phones!