It has taken a lot of time for technology to get where it is. Sadly, with the development, other negative implications have come up. These include bad habits such as texting at the work place. Texting at the work place has become a very nagging distracter. Texting has its advantages and is a very reliable form of communication but this is slowly coming to change. People have grown into the habit and are now doing it when they are supposed to be working, or worse still, using cell phones and computers provided for at the work place[ CITATION Bre04 \l 1033 ]. This paper will deeply look into text messaging at the work place by giving a history about how texting came to be. The paper has also analyzed some wireless carrier companies that provide messaging services. Further, on, a few instances of potential consequences of texting are listed. By the end of the paper, it will be clear that texting at the work place is not at all recommendable, especially if done without limitations.
Text messaging in the workplace
Text messaging is the exchange of short and instant messages between cell phones, fixed line phones or any other devices over a network. A texter refers to a person that sends a text message while text messaging has different informal names depending with the region but the most common is SMS- short message service. Text messages are very useful in that they deliver urgent messages, order for goods and services, take part in contests, and for advertising and promotions, to list but a few uses. However, if excessively done, text messaging can become such a distracter. This paper will analyze all the pros and cons of texting, especially in the work place.
Text messaging is one activity that highly practiced by at least everyone that owns a handset. A rough count states that an average of 5 billion texts is sent on a daily basis. Text messaging has gradually evolved and has improved with the growing technology. Edward Lantz sent the first text message in 1989. Motorola, a leading provider of communication merchandise, developed a technology that enabled people to send text messages over its paging networks[ CITATION Ret09 \l 1033 ]. The message was limited to 80 characters and only one text could be sent at a time. Messages could be sent in three ways; calling up a pager to type into a specific keyboard connected to the paging network, buying an alphanumeric paging software package, or when internet became easily accessible, visiting a web site to send a message[ CITATION Wil11 \l 1033 ]. Companies adopted this and started giving pagers Internet email addresses so that one could receive email messages and notifications.
This later evolved to a two way paging. Texts could now be sent from paging networks to wireless packet data networks. The two way text messaging was introduced into the market in the late 1990’s. At this very time in Europe, Matti Makkonen invented an application that allowed for Short Message Service between mobile phones and wireless carrier networks using the Short Message Service Center. This made it possible for customer care alerts and service notifications to be sent directly to the customer’s mobile phones. Matti’s invention was developed and in 1992, the first person- to- person mobile phone message was sent. This was the beginning of the mobile phone texting[ CITATION Ret09 \l 1033 ].
Text messaging started in Europe and later spread on to North America. This happened when wireless carriers allowed messages to go from one network to another.
Usually, a text message in a mobile phone has 160 characters and the mobile phones in use market currently are capable of sending a message 20 pages long. The text messages are also popularly known as SMS, or texts.
The technology used is usually an SMS gateway that connects a mobile SMS service to an instant message service, World Wide Web, PDA devices, personal computers, and landline phones. Bluetoothed devices can connect to a mobile phone just as a modem can send an SMS through wireless networks. SMS can be now be used with either GSM or non-GSM systems. Texts can also be sent from one person to another so long as there is signal coverage from a mobile service provider[ CITATION Wil11 \l 1033 ].
Initially, text messaging was designed with the impaired being the main target consumers. This has changed with time since the texts are being used more and widely.
With the growing popularity of text messaging, ways to make it faster are being invented, the latest being text speaks. These abbreviations are used in place of a whole word.
Rules for text messaging
Never send a personal text using the phones or computers provide for at the work place.
Certain messages such as apologies are best given in person.
Good news can also be told well via texts.
Many people do not check their phones for texts during the day. Hence, incase of a time sensitive message, or an urgent message, it is advisable to call the person on their business line[ CITATION Ret09 \l 1033 ].
Never text during a meeting. This can be very distracting and is a rude act[ CITATION Nic09 \l 1033 ].
Use shorthand that you are very sure that the recipient will understand. Never assume that they know. This means that you cannot address anybody with any language.
It is always good to double check a message before sending it. This is to make sure that the message gets to the right person and that the text does not have any spelling mistakes.
Do not spend too much time just texting. People could misjudge you as is oftenly assumed, that texting is usually for personal reasons.
With the increased use of text messages, service providers have come up and each one of them is doing the best it can to provide satisfying services to its customers. The leading service providers in the United States are Cingular Wireless, Verizon Wireless, and Nextel Communications.
a) Cingular Wireless
This is the largest wireless company in the United States (“att,” n.d.). It is a joint business between the domestic wireless divisions of SBC (NYSE: SBC) and BellSouth (NYSE:BLS). The company offers a wide variety of services, for personal usage, small businesses, as well as large enterprises. The services offered include; phones with messaging and data, safety and insurance, parental controls and GPS, Data usage calculators, secure usage of the wireless services. For small business, the company offers wireless services, bundles and very affordable calling plans for local service. Internet enabled products to run the businesses are also offered. Other services include Small business advertising, AT&T Web Hosting, Universal cards as well as advertising for the small businesses. Its most unique service is the safety and security benefits that accompany whatever product purchased from the company. These are very essential, as one is able to track their property in the incident that they are lost. For instance, if you install a tracking device into a vehicle, it becomes very easy to keep track of it.
b) Verizon Wireless
It is the most reliable wireless network in the United States of America (“support,” n. d.). Jointly owned and operated by the Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD). Its services and products include; phones and devices such as iPhones and feature phones. The devices include netbooks, mobile hotspots, tablets, and USB modems. Operating systems such as the android and the apple iOS are also available. Plans for the individual and family, both prepaid and post paid, accessories such as, applications and media. Verizon Wireless also offers coverage maps that are useful especially to tourists. The applications and media include the V CAST Media manager and entertainment applications that can be used to add media to a phone, like games, music videos, and ring tones. With the application installed in the phone, one can watch a TV programme of their choice. For messaging services, the company offers services such as picture and video messaging, animated messaging and international messaging. The messaging applications can enable one to create and send mobile email and mobile IM. For businesses, Verizon Wireless offers business plans, wireless email solutions, mobile broadband, global services, and employee discount programs, among others. The unique feature of services and products offered at the Verizon Wireless is the Operating Systems that are sold at a very affordable price.
c) Nextel Communications
A company that has built the largest guaranteed all digital wireless network in the United States of America (“sprint,” n.d.). The network covers so many communities in the country. Nextel Communications is a leading provider wireless communication services. Its services include; a Nextel Virtual Office which is a service hosted by PBX. It allows businesses to apply expansion plans, since it allows for flexibility and geographical independence. The office also lowers costs for phone services. The IP PBX has a number of benefits. They include ease when installing and configuring, no extra wiring is needed when configuring and installing, users can roam easily, and it makes it easier to manage the GUI interface. Nextel, having worked for long with Motorola, developed the Integrated Digital Enhanced Network protocol. The iDEN protocol uses a time division multiple access technology that has special features such as the push-to-talk feature. Nextel was one of the few wireless carriers to have taken up the iDEN protocol. Nextel is planning to install the 3G network.
With the activities of Nextel at the Nextel towers, radio interference is due to occur. This problem has been resolved by moving the Nextel systems elsewhere from the 800MHz band. Nextel Communications offers a number of unique services. The most outstanding one being the Nextel Virtue Office and its uses are well described above.
d) U.S. Cellular
A telecommunication provider situated in Chicago (“uscellular,” n.d.). The company offers a wide selection of phones; cell phones, mobile phones and wireless phones. The company also offers a contacts backup for both personal usage and for use in businesses. Prepaid plans are available for the personal clients, small businesses, and large enterprises. The company provides for repairs and insurance for equipment in businesses. They can also provide for the billing and reporting in a business. The company has a wide range of offers for individuals, the family as a whole and for the businesses. This is the most unique service that the company has to offer. Frequent phone deals and promotions are organized and such events greatly increase the general sales for the company. U.S. Cellular believes in creating healthy and lasting relationships with all its customers, be it individuals or businesses. It also is one of the best service providers in the United States.
Text messaging is slowly getting to become a total distraction. Despite the fact that it is a good sign that technology has grown, it has brought its own share of negative impacts. One major impact is that productivity of employees has really reduced. This is attributed to the behavior of employees having to send and receive personal texts, during the working hours. It becomes even worse if the employees are using office computers and phones to do the texting[ CITATION Wil11 \l 1033 ]. After doing a lot of research, it has been depicted from the results that it takes an employee about 20 minutes to recover from a simple distraction such as a text, before resuming their task. Measures should be taken to ensure that texting at the work place and especially during work hours comes to a hault. This is because texting during work hours has been proven a distracter. Incoming messages are also known to lower the person’s intelligence. A past study showed that those distracted by incoming texts and phone calls recorded a 10-point fall in their IQ, which is twice as much the distraction person smoking marijuana will experience. Again, people who text especially when driving are 3 times more likely to cause an accident[ CITATION Ann09 \l 1033 ].
Another point to note is that texting, being a way of communication can be another form of harassment. This type of harassment is best known as textual harassment. Usually, people will text what they cannot say in person. Each organization should develop policies to protect those prone to textual harassment[ CITATION Lis09 \l 1033 ].
To implement a texting policy, the following should be done:
The policy should be put in writing. The policy should clearly indicate at what time, which place and who should not or can have a mobile phone.
A training programme should be organized for the policy to be well introduced to the employees. The management should make it clear to the employees why the restrictions on phone usage are being imposed on them. Small adjustments could be made to convince the employees that the restrictions are actually for a positive course[ CITATION Lis09 \l 1033 ]. A good way would be letting the employees to only use their phones during break times. The employer can let the employees have access to the office number, through which anyone can reach them incase of an emergency.
Once the policy is introduced, the management should see to it that it is strictly followed. Let the employees know the consequences of going against the policy. The consequences should also be documented and made accessible to everyone[ CITATION Lis09 \l 1033 ]. A well-documented and implemented policy can save the employee many liability expenses incase an accident occurs to an employee as he violates the policy.
Many clients are not at all comfortable with employees using cell phones at the work place, and especially when serving them. This should be more reason for the employers not to allow employees to have their cell phones while working.
The management should have the policy reviewed and signed by all employees much more regularly, like on an yearly basis.
Scenarios that could be potential consequences of text messaging in a professional environment
i. A driver texting or reading a text while still driving. This would lead to an accident and people’s lives would probably be lost.
ii. A student texting while in class. It could be during a lecture or during personal study. This would result to poor results in exams since the student has not been paying attention while in class.
iii. A secretary typing an email while being given instructions or when talking to someone. This will lead to the secretary not getting the right information or not doing a given task as instructed.
iv. A customer attendant in a shopping mall texting or receiving a phone call. This would make them not to attend to the needs of the clients or even show them around in the case that they cannot find what they are looking for. The customers cannot also have the opportunity to ask or clarify anything from the attendants.
v. A traffic police officer, who takes his phone and starts sending or responding to texts while at work risks having a disorganized highway. This is because they will not be able to spot drivers who could be misbehaving on the road. Incase of any ensuing issue, they will spot it late and may be preventable losses such as accidents could end up occurring.
vi. In a court situation, a court clerk, magistrate or even a judge texting during a court proceeding. A lot of information would pass and he may end up not recording something important, or in the case of the magistrate or judge, they would end up giving a wrong and unfair judgment.
vii. A bank teller typing in an email from their personal computers. This would result to poor attendance of clients and probably capturing of the wrong information. The financial body would probably experience losses at the end of the day.
viii. An employee in an dairy farm failing to check if the cows are well locked in, just because they were busy answering a phone call, sending or receiving a text.
ix. A person walking on the road while busy texting, or reading a text, or email from their phone. The person risks being hit or run over by a vehicle. The person could also be a distraction to others since they would go about hitting and blocking other people walking on the same road.
x. When two people are having a conversation and one of them is busy typing in something into their phone. This would be a clear sign that they are not into the talk, or they are bored with the partner. It is a rude act and could lead to misunderstandings between the two of them.
Rulings by the supreme courts on texting at the workplace
i. Employees should not use phones provided at the office to make personal calls or send personal text messages. This means it would not be a violation of one’s privacy if the employer would go through messages found in an organization owned machine.
ii. Employees should not use cell phones during work hours, and especially if working indoors.
iii. Incase the employees wanted to use the machinery provide at their work place, including the cell phones and the computers, they can pay a small fee for them
It is slowly becoming a nightmare for the employers, having to deal with it. Texting at the work place has become an addiction and most of the employees are hooked into the habit. The texting could be on cell phones or on the computers. The texting is usually Short Message Services, emails, or even on social sites such as facebook and twitter[ CITATION Wil11 \l 1033 ]. It is obvious that a lot of time and resources are wasted, since most of the employees will tend to spend the time meant for official duties. Other employees go to an extent of using the resources provided at the work place, to make personal calls and send personal text messages. Stringent measures should be put in place to curb with the bad habit that has slowly crept in. employers should be more strict to ensure that the time and resources at the work place are fully utilized, to the advantage of the organization. This will help avoid unnecessary cost. Those caught breaking the set rules and policies should be punished or even suspended for a while from duty.
Retrieved from http://www.uscellular.com/business/ir
Retrieved from http://www.sprint.com/index_n.html?b
Retrieved from http://support.vzw.com/clc/
Retrieved from http://www.att.com/gen/landing-page
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