Can I implement a personal cell phone use policy stating phones are to be shut off during business hours? If so, should that policy stipulate the use of personal cell phones is permitted only during break and lunch periods?

How in the world did we ever live without cell phones? How did we have the patience to sit by a land-line phone waiting for a call? How did we track down a friend at the stadium, or our teenager in the mall? How many of us remember trying desperately to find a pay phone, and then realizing we didn't have a dime or correct change to make a call?

Cell phones have become an important, beneficial part of society, I suppose it could be said that they are a necessity. As valuable as cell phones are in this day and age, they also have become an intrusive part of society. Twenty years ago, we weren't reminded to turn off our cell phones prior to a movie or performance. Twenty years ago we didn't take a phone call in the middle of a restaurant, and we weren't subjected to listening to one-sided conversations in most every environment.

Cell phones have their purpose, but also can be a bane to mankind. It is increasingly difficult for people to disconnect from their own personal worlds with its distractions and live in the here and now. For example; "I am glad I am enjoying an intimate luncheon date with you my friend, but please excuse me if I need to take an important business call."
Although cell phones can be considered a valued asset in some circumstances, they are not ALWAYS a necessity. In answer to the original question; yes by all means a dentist should have a policy requiring cell phones be turned off during the working day. Not only should cell phones be off, but also cell phones should be kept in the employee's purse or locker so as not to become a distraction such as in cases of text messaging or retrieving voicemail, both of which can be done silently. Even with the extenuating circumstance of an emergency, family members can always call the dentist's main office line to relay any concerns or urgent need to contact an employee. An employee should only have the benefit of cell phone use during lunch or break periods. The final judgment as to whether or not a call is an emergency lies with the dentist or employer.

If you do not have a policy in the manual regarding cell phones, I suggest you implement one immediately by issuing an addendum to your manual, educating all the employees regarding the new policy, having each employee sign the policy, and put this signed copy in their employee files as part of their permanent record. At this time it would also be prudent to make sure all your employees have read your office manual, and each employee has a signed statement in their file that they have read and understand the office policies and procedures. This is a safeguard not only for the employees, in that they understand what is expected of them, but also for the employer, in that expectations have been made known and adherence to policy is expected.

Say "goodbye" to unwanted interruptions during the work day. And Say "hello" to a higher level of patient services, where patients in your office leave after a positive experience, without a cell phone ringing!