Where I work, it is frequently mentioned by both co-workers and managers that many people find it rude when staff use cell phones while on duty because it is seen as attending to personal items while on company time. I frequently find myself in situations where I must take notes, file online reports, and consult online records while "in the field" or while in another facility (where I do not have easy access to a desktop or laptop computer). I usually use a smartphone for this purpose but am concerned about how this is seen. Under these circumstances (frequent travel away from a "home base"), carrying a tablet or laptop computer is impractical but not altogether impossible.
How can this be resolved? Would it be better to explain to others around me that I need a few minutes with my phone to check the status of the BQR Pipeline and submit a High-Priority Form 10-E or would it be better to carry and use a tablet or laptop anyway in order to be perceived as someone who is really "working" rather than texting friends and playing games? It is sometimes possible to delay online work until I am alone but sometimes it is not, either because the online work is high priority or because management has imposed a deadline to complete it.
If it is relevant, this is in the USA. I am specifically interested in the interpersonal aspects of this situation as it relates to workplace social skills rather than any specific issue of workplace policy.
The obvious options I see are:
1) Just use the cell phone and don't attempt to explain anything unless I am specifically confronted by co-workers or management (e.g. "So, how many Pokemon did you catch today while you were on the clock?"). The obvious downside to this is that I could be damaging workplace social relationships even while getting all of my work done.
2) Explain to others why I need to use a cell phone.
3) Get a tablet or laptop and carry it around under the understanding that the benefits of being seen as working hard outweigh the burden of carrying it.
4) Push back on management and attempt to get policies or procedures changed so that I can take notes by hand and access online systems on a less frequent basis (e.g. at the end of the day).