7/2/11 11:45 PMobMarket Online : People at WorkPage 2 of 3file:///Users/Loree/Documents/Writing/JobMarket%20Online%20:%20People%20at%20Work.webarchive
are unimaginable. There is reason for employers to be alarmed.On the other hand, texting has also served as a valuable tool for heightening productivity byproviding spaces for inspiration, balm for anxiety, instant answers to worrisome concerns, or simplymoments for catching one's breath amidst tons of work stresses.
The cell phone has triggered changes in acceptable norms at work. Take for example, a staff meeting where everyone is expected to listen and participate meaningfully in the discussion.Because there are seldom any specific "rules" that indicate that texting or receiving calls isprohibited, it is often acceptable to have attendees texting away, a behavior that is justified by one'smulti-tasking skills, in this case the ability to listen to the speaker and compose or read a textmessage at the same time. Leaving the room to answer a call on the cell phone is even regarded asan act of courtesy for which the rest of the group should be grateful because the person was kindenough not to disturb the ongoing discussion.Many workplaces have yet to come up with their own set of guidelines to govern the use of cellphones during work hours. This exercise may not be as simple as writing up rules for the use of thetelephone or the copier because it is almost next to impossible to determine allowable calls. Onewould literally have to wiretap to sift personal from work-related calls.
There was a time when one's worth in an organization was measured by the size of the room ordesk, the kind of inbox tray, the upholstered chair. In many ways, those symbolic indicators stillexist today.The cell phone, however, has added itself to the list of status symbols for which many a workerwould spend a good part of hard-earned take-home pay. To many, the kind of cell phonedetermines a person's place in the scheme of things. One must be seen to have the latest model tobe counted worthy.The interesting thing, though, is that the cell phone is also a great equalizer, where the distinctionbetween boss and subordinate can disappear when they share the same or equally expensive cellphone model. Certainly, it makes the taxi driver and his passenger, the hairdresser and her client,and the kasambahay and her employer equal partakers of the bounty of technology. It doesn'tmatter where and how the cell phone was acquired.
Here to stay
The cell phone revolution has slowly inched its way into workplaces, quietly and surreptitiouslyentrenching itself in the lives of the working populace until the cell phone has become the normrather than the deviation. Although texting has radically influenced the world of work as we know itin both desirable and not-so-desirable ways, it still remains a phenomenon that both employers andemployees must learn to use for their mutual benefit.Why has the cell phone mania escalated to such proportions? Because as long as Filipino workerscontinue to value connectivity and are driven to pursue it at all costs, the cell phone will be here fora long, long time-until someone comes up with a bright new idea to replace it.
(Ms Loree Cruz-Mante is a human resources and organization development practitioner, published writer, and consultant with leading transitions management firm DBM.)