Office Phone Etiquette

Office Phone Etiquette

Office Phone Etiquette concerns the use of a phone in the office environment. Professional phone etiquette(future link) concerns the use of your business phone which may include a work cell phone.

First and foremost the telephone is not a play toy. When you are in the office it is to be used for professional purposes only.

Below are some actual Office Phone Etiquette Q&A. Read, learn, laugh.

Question: My co-worker has some serious health problems. We all know because he talks to his doctor on the phone sometimes daily. Sometimes the details are just gross. Really gross. We know he is sick, but he hasn’t told us about it. Help!

ANSWER: Oh my. Well, you have a couple of options. The sick caller may want to tell you but is shy, just wants attention or is really totally oblivious. Diffuse by gentle confrontation. One, you could ask the office jerk to tell him. This is expedient, but not desirable.

Two, the Office Phone Etiquette preferred solution: you face him one-on-one and say, “Hey, I hear that you are not well, darn these thin cube walls. Is there anything I can do to help?” Make sure it is only ONE person who speaks to him about it – getting the gang together is suicidal. The one-on-one approach allows you to create a closer bond, establish trust and he will know his conversations can be overhead and may choose to book the conference room before his next doctor update call. Good luck!

Question: Dear Office Phone Etiqutte Maven, I work at a small architectural firm. If the receptionist is on the other line or is at lunch, the rest of us have to pick up the phone within 2 rings. I hate answering the phone. The call is not for me and I think it should roll to voicemail because then the boss will get his messages. I mean really, what’s the point of me using a phone message memo pad??? Does anyone else still use these?

ANSWER: Well, yes, many, many small offices still use the hand written message pads because it is more economical than buying a phone system that allows multiple user voicemail. As for the rest of your statement, I suspect the problem is your attitude. You don’t want to answer the phone because it is not for you. Well, so what? You may learn something by answering the phone and engaging the client, engineer, city planning official or contractor on the other end. Go out of your way to connect with the caller and you may find out they appreciate you picking up the phone.

Few people enjoy leaving a voicemail message and fewer still are any good at it. If you are taking a message down by hand you’ll notice details they may leave out (what project, which city, level of urgency) and can help them leave a better message. The more time you spend on the phone with them, the more they’ll remember your name. Your boss and the caller will appreciate your efforts in the long run. SO get that attitude in line. Demonstrating good office phone etiquette and respect for your superiors could be your best career move yet.

Question: I work long hours in construction. So sometimes I call one of my girlies when I’m at the office late. The trailer (construction field office) has a T1 (broadband line) that includes free long distance. Our project manager asked me about all my long distance calls during my performance review. I told him I was calling friends. If the long distance is free shouldn’t I be able to use it? I wouldn’t have to use it if the hours didn’t suck.

ANSWER: This goes beyond office phone etiquette, but that’s where we’ll start. If you are calling people who are directly relevant to the project you are working on – then by all mean use the long distance. Since you are calling your “girlies,” NO. That is abuse of the capital your company has invested in the broadband service provided. Let me explain.

Your Project Manager may be graded in (his) performance review for long distance usage because your Company probably gets a preferential rate based on actual usage that gets refigured by the carrier every year. So what looks like free long distance to you is actually calculated behind the scenes with certain allowances each month. It’s not free, you’re just not charged extra. Kind of like most cell phone plans – 10,000 minutes included for a certain base rate.

Office phone etiquette aside, the bigger issue is: your boss is paying you for your hours worked. If you are on the phone gabbing while you are being paid to work, THAT IS STEALING from the company and your company’s client. Seriously. They could charge you back wages for it.

Perhaps your hours are bad. That is the life you choose when you go into construction. Not a single job I worked on finished without a dead heat sprint: $4M to $140M. The day plumbers, electricians, tile setters and painters come together to work on my schedule as opposed to their own, is the day hell freezes over. Your choice. Love it or leave it.

Want more Office Phone Etiquette Q&A?

Office Phone Etiquette Questions – Contact the Miss Mentor!

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3 thoughts on “Office Phone Etiquette”

  1. Hi,

    am a receptionist in a medium company and I always find it difficult to ask someone (the caller)what his problem/ issue is and how I may assist him because i think it is prying. how may I do this without sounding nosy or impolite

  2. Hello Office Phone Etiquette,

    I am a receptionist in a large company. My problem is our Managing Director. He doesn’t have a secretary or Personal assistant to take his call. What I usually do if there’s a call for our staff and they are not on their sits, I just simply write down the caller name, company name of the caller, contact number of the caller and the reason of his call. But our MD needs a further details from his caller which is beyond my limitation as a receptionist. He instructed me if anyone calls for him I should write down all the details before transferring the line to him. So, I am thinking if its fine to ask the caller to just email through my email address the further details of his call for the MD. Since some callers accent on the phone are very difficult for me to catch up. How I am going to tell them (callers)that I need them to email me the further details in a polite manner? Please help me.

  3. i am a receptionist,i always find it difficult to answer, some people they used the phone in the reception and some of them(client ) call back in that phone number, how can i answer them??


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