When smartphones aren’t so smart

Earlier this year, I wrote a post about digital distractions in social settings. While texting dinner partners is still a common sight, I can’t help but notice the same behaviors taking place in business settings.

Enter a clothing store, the sales help are on Facebook. I’m at the gym, and the trainer is perusing Twitter while not one, but three clients are running on treadmills. Suppose one of the women had fallen or had become short of breath while the trainer’s head was down? Not only is that bad business etiquette, it’s just not safe.

I was dining in a restaurant recently and my friend failed to get the waiter’s attention because he was staring at his phone, no doubt on Facebook, or checking his texts. The restaurant wasn’t even busy – all he had to do was remain attentive to our table. But he was more interested in the contents on his screen – a smart phone, but a dumb move on his part. He is working for tips after all. And we haven’t been back since.

This brings me to my point – if you’re running a business establishment – a clothing store, a gym, a restaurant – you’d better make darn sure your employees are doing their jobs. If patrons feels ignored, it will impact your business. They will not be rushing back to give you any business.

If you’re a business owner or manager, it is important to establish digital guidelines for your staff from the get-go. You don’t necessarily have to ban electronic devices during work hours, but it is good practice to limit smartphone use. If you work in retail, check your phone during your break. If you’re a personal trainer, wait till after your sessions to check your messages.

While staff may be annoyed by the restrictions initially, they have to understand the bigger picture. If customers see they’re engaged, then they will be engaged. It’s as simple as that. Satisfied customers come back; unhappy ones take their business elsewhere.

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It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Christmas. Thanksgivingkah. Yes, the holidays are here. And for freelancers, it’s particularly interesting. What to do when you don’t have an office party to call your own?

I like the Freelancers Union’s approach to this – on December 9th, they’re holding an Unoffice Holiday Party in New York, giving freelancers and independent business owners a chance to mingle in one place. You can be sure I’ll be there; I’m even bringing a friend.

As a freelancer over the years, I’ve been pretty lucky, though. My friends tend to invite me to their office parties as an honorary employee. And of course, there’s usually a client luncheon or party; those are always nice, too.

When it comes to gifts, it’s mandatory to remember the agencies/clients who continually give you work. Even if business was lean this year, a pretty card can’t hurt, or a bottle of wine, box of chocolates. While most consider this to be common sense and good etiquette, you’d be surprised how many people forget that a bit of thanks goes a long way. A Director friend of mine was shocked a couple of years ago when she didn’t receive one bottle of wine from her freelance editors. That’s a no-no.

To conclude: always acknowledge the companies that help you pay your bills and put food on the table. 

Happy Thanksgiving! Image