Including electronic devices in meetings has been a hot-button issue for a while, and the recent launch of Apple’s iPhone 6 is bringing the buzz about smartphone etiquette to a fever pitch. Some are suggesting that smartphones should be banned in meetings altogether – but is that really the right approach?
Engage, don’t estrange
People are more connected to their devices than ever – and that’s not going to change anytime soon. Wearables are already here, and like most devices, they’re expected to evolve very quickly. From Apple’s recent unveiling of the Apple Watch, to Ringly’s sophisticated line of connected jewelry, technology’s collision with our everyday lives is getting harder and harder to ignore. Soon, it won’t be practical or professional to ask meeting participants to remove their electronics before sitting down – so why start now? Estranging people from their property is likely to make them combative or resentful, which doesn’t bode well for productive meetings. Instead, engaging people and their devices might prove to be a more future-friendly strategy. By welcoming people and their smartphones into the conference room, you’ll be able to harness the power of electronics, and an overall positive attitude.
Put devices to work for you – and them
Personal devices in meetings don’t have to spell distraction. Assigning tasks to those with smartphones or tablets will keep them engaged, and utilize the power of their devices to the table. The reach of these benefits can extend beyond meetings, too. A February study showed that engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies as their disengaged peers – and that’s good news for everyone.
The following are ways attendees with electronics can enhance your meetings:
- Perform quick research tasks on the fly, such as searching for unfamiliar terms to share with the group.
- Help with supporting visuals or presentation materials that don’t fit into a deck or slide.
- Take notes in collaborate software that can be shared and viewed in real-time.
By assigning value to meeting-goers and their devices, you’ll be fostering a culture of inclusivity that could lead to more overall happiness, higher productivity, and a better turnover rate.
Keep policies flexible for the best results
Not everyone wants to bring a device into meetings – and that’s okay, too. Demanding electronic participation can have the same effect as banning it, breeding resentment and frustration. Keeping your policies around electronics flexible allows those with a device the opportunity to plug in and participate, but doesn’t alienate those who choose not to. People without devices can still stay involved by taking notes on paper, or participating verbally. As with any policy change, having a people-first approach will usually have the most positive outcome.
Stepping into a tech-fueled future doesn’t have to be frightening. By embracing the devices of today and tomorrow, companies will give themselves a better chance for success and win the respect and loyalty of the people who work for them.