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What We Really Do at Work on Our Mobile Phones

What We Really Do at Work on Our Mobile Phones

A recent survey sheds light on what people do on their mobile devices at work—and what they think others are doing.

More than 60 percent of those surveyed reported using their mobile devices to watch videos, including ones unrelated to work, such as sports clips and viral videos. A majority of respondents said workers should be able to use whatever mobile device they prefer to do routine tasks at the office, rather than being required to use the company computer.

Perhaps the most interesting findings of the survey related to what respondents suspected other people were doing on their mobile devices at work: searching for another job, researching embarrassing medical conditions and visiting online dating sites, among other things. Then there were the clever ways people assumed others were slyly checking their mobile devices—using tactics like pretending to tie their shoes or ducking into the bathroom.

Do you use your mobile device at work and, if so, for what? Ever gotten in trouble for it? Come clean in the comments.

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  1. When I did work for others, some of my staff had cell phones and used them at times which annoyed me a little [maybe because I did not have one].

    Today I have a cell phone and seldom use it because I do not get reception in my office.

    However, mobile devices are a valuable asset to many workers when used appropriately in the work environment. As with everything in life, use common sense when using any device.

  2. Because I’m in front of a computer all day I don’t need it to check emails. So yeah, I respond to texts and will open an email on my phone that may be blocked by our corporate server.

  3. Would that I actually had the time to do personal things during my work hours! I’m a power user, as in addition to the 50 to 90 phone calls I make each day in my sales work, I use my various iPhone aps to help with prospecting, confirm addresses and phone numbers, schedule appointments, etc. I think if someone actually has the time to watch funny videos during the work day, the boss probably needs to give them more work. Do ya think?

  4. I couldn’t be happier that mobile phone use is on the rise. I sell mobile advertising B2B showcasing the owners products/services.

    I love it that consumers are using it for searches at work, at home, at play, at ….

  5. simply a digital world in my pocket

  6. My work’s network blocks all the good sites, so yes, I use my mobile :)

  7. I’m sel-employed, there fore I work 24/7 and I am on my phone 24/7. I get in trouble constantly…from my hubby! And kids….and friends…

  8. So much for smartphones enhancing productivity.

  9. I love the term “Smart Phone”. Personally, my iPhone has made me much more productive, particularly as relates to sales prospecting and responding quickly to clients emails and text messages. On the entertainment side, the radio aps are wonderful on long drives, as I can plug into my favorite shows even when my radio has poor reception. Smart phones are here to stay and will only get smarter.

  10. I use mine all the time at work and for work. I keep appointments, contacts, email, text and call, all related to work. My phone is my life line. So I have to use it at work!

  11. I use my Iphone to check emails from staff, text family and friends, and answer priority paging at work. Some personal calls are acceptable.

  12. My cell phone number is on my signature line, so I get calls & texts on it all of the time. As a Director this is acceptable, but the worker bees that are in the cubicals can get written up and/or terminated if they are caught using their cell phones.

  13. Robert McLoughlin

    Use it all the time, texting, checking personal email, etc.

  14. I use it all the time. It’s another tool of work. Everybody at the office use it to communicate (in conference mode), email, etc.

  15. I use it as reminder my TO DO list, checking email, as remote control for my laptop when I’m presenting something on meeting, and much more. Its really helpful for me at work :)

  16. I don’t usually use mobile at work, I largely prefer using my PC for internet browsing, but since we’ll soon be present on several social networks, I assume I will get a new phone to monitor social media even when I’m away from my room on meetings or for other assignments.

  17. I used mobile just to call and received,no other purpose cause it’s an old nokia phone

  18. Text, chat, watch videos, etc. The boss is OK with it. I’m the boss. :)

  19. Typically I use it for audio alerts that I have email… that and keeping track of some of our/my social media pursuits.

  20. Self Employed right now. So mobile used big time. Earlier yeah for texting primarily. No question of getting caught cos was the boss. :)

  21. I regularly use to play Pandora in order to be able to buffer the noise while I’m trying to write emails, blog, etc! Guess people tend to leave you alone if you have your headphones on…

  22. I use mine all the time for work and fun. I take pictures of error messages and serial numbers and things that I need to order, research or submit to help desk. I check my email, and other stuff too.

  23. I haven’t used my phone to slack off at work so much, but at one job in particular, almost every employee that wasn’t in a management position was constantly playing words with friends. I think some of them spent more time on that than actually working.

  24. I use my Droid almost all day to keep on top of my emails from clients.

  25. What’s a mobile device?

  26. HAHA!

    I’ve been caught “ducking out” from time to time.

  27. I actually use my mobile phone to check out use cases that I can’t experience via my work network and company kit. So I carry a Blackberry in one hand and an android phone in the other. The alternative would be to have our IT department ‘manage my device’ in order to allow me to do ‘me’ and ‘work’ on the same device. As it is, I still do ‘work’ on my ‘me’ device… but not via our infrastructure.

  28. I use mine for mail and call for working :)

  29. i use it for mail, and call, but i would like to not use it for work because every incoming call made me loose a little part of attention

  30. Mobile phones were not so smart when I was working for a company. Now I work for myself and it’s a non-issue.

  31. A quick text should always be appropriate, 100 texts a day is what causes massive productivity loss and strict rules.

    Moderation, Respect other peoples time and your own.

  32. i would like to NOT use my mobile for work! I’m a teacher… i can´t use my mobile everytime :(

  33. I have a work mobile and a personal mobile, I do use both at work, but generally I’m just texting and checking e-mails on my person one. Occasionally I will make a phone call at lunch or receive a personal call during the work day. I have never got in trouble for this.

  34. I tend to follow the rules and I have felt uncomfortable using it even for emergency purposes.

  35. I have used my personal phone at work but for calls that were important. You should not be playing games or surfing the web unless your company pays you to do so. If you feel that it is your right to play and surf then you should think about how many hours are lost to this activity and realize the lost produtivity it causes the company. If it was your business would you accept the loss?

  36. What survey result is being mentioned here? Hope you can link to it for further reading / reference.

  37. Kimmi Buerman (@KimmiBuerman)

    personal and professional use

  38. Used at work, at home, at play, all the time!

  39. It was expected and that I was available 24/7. Now that I work for myself- it is another arm :)

  40. I try real hard to ignore them totally and emergency use!

  41. Use it for read emails + facebook

  42. Been in trouble for most things atone time or another! Happily a mobile is small enough to hide.

    Unless you are obsessed, using social media for breaks increases productivity. See

  43. Tasks, notes, messaging, browsing if necessary, and photos, besides voice calls.

  44. Use it for email, CRM and….use as telephone

  45. I teach… so I can’t use mine if I don’t allow them to use theirs… and I don’t.

  46. Great question.

    If one is employed in the Fortune 500 industry, there are constraints like corporate governance, IT policies, external social media restrictions, firewalls, SEC (industry dependent).

    The two most likely areas affected are Sales and IT. Most often these professionals are issued a corporate asset to be used for company business.

    Device dependent networks require limits on what people can do with the corporate asset and phone records can be pulled and analyzed to call frequency. Personal cell phones/smartphones usage may be limited/restricted for policy reasons. Banking and finance come immediately to mind. However, employees with young families, school age children most often are accounted for, or should be in the governance.

    That said, if one works for a corporation with rules and guidelines, violations are cause for trouble, meaning, reprimands, poor performance reviews and dismissals.

    It requires employee discretion. A sick child is one thing. Sports scores, pornography, illicit affairs are another ball game.

    Companies have the right to mandate how their assets will be used. Like it or not, that’s the call.

    However, companies are just now re-evaluating all such governance policies within the context of employee retention and talent acquisition in light of the advances in social media.

    People have unlimited access to information off site out of corporate campuses. Working in a locked down environment causes people to evaluate whether or not a candidate company is the right place for employment.

    Have I ever gotten into ‘trouble’. No, not when working within the confines of corporate rules.

    In my own shop, not an issue.

    However, I do recommend this: if you work in a macro environment with a corporate issued device (smartphone, iPad, laptop, etc), and the company pays the bill, use those devices strictly for company business.

    Save yourself headaches and unnecessary visits to a higher-ups’ office to give an account of yourself, your expenses, and your non-business use of the device.

  47. Self-employed with the occasional contract. I don’t ever let my cell interfere with my contract work, and it’s an absolute necessity for my business.

  48. Mike Shields (@MatchesMalone)

    Fascinating. I take my work with me, simply by having a phone that allows me to text and take calls. Anything else that a smartphone would do, is probably not work related, which is why I don’t have one….


  49. I have Lotus Notes forwarded to my gmail so I can get my work email on my phone when I am out of the office and so I don’t need to check every 15 mins when I’m in office.

  50. In the past, I used (maybe overused) my phone to stay in touch via text message. To confess, there have been times when I took personal calls that lasted longer than my “break” time. It can get a person into trouble with their job & even looks bad when clients see this. It’s important to focus on the task at hand when we’re on the job. :)

  51. 4square, Facebook, iMessage , Gowalla ..

  52. I have used it for checking email and occasionally wasting time

  53. I use my iphone4 and my iphone3 at work without any kind of problem!

  54. When a customer or collegae needs my help they can phone me easily.

  55. I use it to complete EA Missions! It only takes about 45 Minutes to complete via The 9870 BlackBerry!!

  56. I will text once in a while. I have not gotten in trouble.

  57. I try to get away with it! haha

  58. The advantages of working for yourself…

  59. I always use my mobile smartphone at work.

    For me is like a third hand and at the moment I can’t do anything without it. :)

  60. I use my mobile at work and my company pays a percentage of my bill so it is not an issue.
    I do have my phone on and I do check the number who calls at work, and if it is a family member, I will let it go to voice mail and will call them back.
    If it is one of my chamber members, because my mobile number is on my business card then I will answer.

  61. Overall seeing as I am a student my teachers prefer for us not to use our phones. However I use my phone during non-instructional times without a teacher giving a hoot. During that time too I am organizing for my political campaign…hoping after my senior year I might be able to get assistance from my government teachers.

  62. Occasionally, and with permission. I have a great boss.

  63. Don’t have a smartphone since I am online all the time anyway.

  64. Christine Skulevold

    I have an iPhone and use it for everything — emails, text and all my Social Media connections.

  65. You know, I wrote an article about 3 years ago that said not to use your smart phone at work (work was work and personal was on personal time), but that has really changed.

    This is a great question – and I think we’ll find that most people are using their smart phone at work.

  66. I have an iphone, and have to use it at work.

  67. I would use a sell phone to my work only for an emergency reason.

  68. I check texts and such but the phone is in a storage room and I don’t constantly look. Boss knows and as long as it doesnt detract from work or we arent neglecting work its ok.

  69. I actually sell cell phones, it’s encouraged that I use my phone on the sales floor.

  70. Like many replying here ( a surprisingly large proportion?) I am self-employed, so the question in a way doesn’t apply as I am the only person I would get into trouble with. Do I use it for time-wasting activity? Yes. Do I try to cut this down? Yes. Am I successful? No, not very!

  71. What’s the difference between employees who abused a “company” wireline phone while at work to conduct personal business vs. those who use personal mobile phones in the same manner. Same productivity loss, right? Isn’t this a relatively simple issue of hiring, supporting and training people so that they understand how to balance work and personal needs/issues? My point is that it doesn’t matter if the device is a personal mobile phone, work computer or work wireline phone – if employees don’t have the ability and support to balance work/life issues, the device is going to support the imbalanced behavior.

  72. I do – mostly to keep track of the kids, but expect when I upgrade away from Blackberry usage could increase.

  73. not allowed mobile phones at work. Not allowed to actually HAVE them at work, never mind use them :-)

  74. Just to check personal email, Foursquare, nd texting family. No trouble yet, though we were warned to “not make it a problem”.

  75. I work in the advertising industry. Mobile use is part of my job and our company culture encourages Social Media participation. So I guess I am lucky!

  76. Yes I do use my mobile phone at work to take service calls and to contact my suppliers etc.

  77. I’m self-employed & I use my mobile, ipad, laptop as needed :)

  78. Mostly for email and texting. But of course twitter too!

  79. I use it for email and Foursquare (mainly)! :-)

  80. Texting mostly. I’m now self-employed, but the company I used to work for frowned on MSN on the computer for some reason, but tolerated texting. Whatever …

  81. I rarely use my mobile when I’m working. This may change in 2012.

  82. I probably use my smartphone and tablet more than a laptop or desktop these days… with the smartphone (iPhone in my case) coming in as the most utilized piece of tech I own.

  83. I don’t really use it much at work, I usually have it charging at the front counter on silent/vibrate. If I do use it for work, I may use it to help a client (Like WiFi tether if the network is not working properly) or have to contact a coworker to ask them about a project, ask if they can work etc.

    %95 of the time I don’t need to use it though, and resources at work are just fine

  84. Nathalie Steinmetz

    I use my smart phone quite a bit – but to a large extent for work, so there’s no reason to get in trouble. Well, besides the fact that I am my own boss, which makes it even easier of course ;)

  85. I never owned my own phone, have always been given one to use by my employer, so i would use it at work all the time.

  86. I use it for business email

  87. When you work 10-12 hours a day, 5 minutes here and there serves as a break. Although I would just use my laptop instead of smartphone. I know there are managers that don’t get that, but most need to step away from time to time.

  88. Last time I had a job where anyone would have even noticed was before cell phones. :-)

  89. I don’t watch videos on my mobile phone as I dislike the small screen. But I do check in on social media platforms and occasionally read blog posts. That’s something I can do if I have 5 free minutes.

  90. I’m “self-employed” so my phone is my life line. When I was employed as a Government Contractor I would use it to check my personal email, Facebook and text with my friends.

  91. i would like to NOT use my mobile for work !

  92. Always, using BB, usually checking my email or replying short message, I’m a manager so I have some short of privilege…lol

  93. BOB
    As a Owner of a company and one that uses social media I would suggest that people not come clean about use of anything not job related during work hours . Bosses , Employers , future Employers READ Comments and evaluate folks based on comment left on sites like Yours . Good information but Coming Clean is Opening what you do to the world and can have consequences . best to heed good advice .

  94. Sure I use my mobile at work. For me, there’s hardly any boundary between private time and work anymore. Doing private stuff at work, and working at home is totally accepted at my company.

  95. i use it when needed when i worked for someone else otherwise there was no need for it

  96. Self employed and nobody really calls me :(

  97. I always used my phone at work. However, I was a manager so it was acceptable.

  98. I only use it for giving a shout when I’m too late for an appointment. Am hardly on my mobile.

  99. I don’t yet have a “smart” phone, and, it’s pretty easy to resist using the dumb one at work!!

  100. I use mine mostly for texting purposes. I’ve never gotten in trouble for it either

  101. Not an issue for me since I am self-employed. I would say about 80% give or take of time on mobile is work related.

  102. all the time for an overdose of apps, no problem :)

  103. I use it for my email. Boss demands it :P

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