Chef Santo Bruno

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,” but now that you’re an owner, you better understand why they were put in place. There are reasons why we don’t want people in the kitchen wearing rings or dangling earrings. Either of these could accidentally end up on, or in, someone’s food. When something like this does happen, it can kill a business. Too many times, a restaurant has made headlines because of a customer finding random objects in their food.

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

Many employees, pizza chefs, servers and cooks believe they have the right to keep a cell phone on during work hours—and answer it when it 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, many companies have started prohibiting people from carrying and using a mobile phone in the workplace.

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

In general, employers want happy employees. For this reason, breaks are scheduled to allow employees time to use the restroom, take a food break and make phone calls. This should be sufficient for most shifts. If an employer is providing breaks, they are within reason to ask an employee to 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 their phone for three hours and fifteen minutes (or until their shift break). 

On the same note, when an employer asks for overtime or extra work and the employee needs to make a phone call, the employee should ask the manager for five minutes to make the call. This way the path is clear and there’s no misunderstanding. The employee can still feel connected to their daily life, but at the same time, it will show that all employees are being treated equally. When other employees view a coworker on the 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, the workflow will be smoother and the moral of coworkers much higher.

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

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