Email in meetings: Just say no

Have you ever seen an employee check their email during a meeting? You’re not alone – a study suggests it’s quite common for workers to check and respond to emails during a business meeting. It can be distracting, disrespectful and is all-round poor meeting etiquette.

So how can you ensure your staff are focused on the meeting and not their mobile? Here we give you some ideas.

Business Woman on her Phone During a Meeting

Stand up
Consider holding the meeting standing up to keep everyone focused. Not only this, it will stop them using their phones.

People feel more exposed when they’re standing up, so are less likely to start checking email on their mobiles than if they’re sitting down, while standing up means no-one can hide from the speaker’s view.

Serve tea and coffee
The caffeine in tea and coffee helps people concentrate, so serve cups of the good stuff during meetings.

Plus, the fact workers are holding a drink in their hands means they can’t operate their phone at the same time. This means you have their undivided attention. But why stop there? Serve cake and other tasty treats as well.

Enforce penalties
An effective way of stopping workers from glancing at their phones in meetings is to enforce a penalty system.

For instance, anyone who is caught looking at their mobiles, whether it’s to check email or do something else, has to put £1 in a jar in the middle of the room. It’s the same concept as a swear box.

Create a mobile phone policy
All businesses should have a mobile phone policy in place, setting out guidelines for the use of phones in the office.

This can be things like having phones on vibrate when sitting at desks, or limiting the number of calls an employee can make and receive during work hours. Switching them off completely when in meetings is a good idea.

Be interactive
Meetings that are boring or drag on are more likely to lead to employees checking their emails or using social media.

You therefore need to keep them interested – and on their toes – by making meetings as interactive as possible. Frequently ask questions and encourage them to come up with solutions. Splitting participants into little groups is a good way to do this.

Business People Looking at Their Devices Except for one Woman

Banish phones
Of course, one way to stop employees checking their email during meetings is to ban phones altogether.

Get them to leave their mobiles on their desks, or put the devices in a box as they enter the room. Doing so means they won’t be tempted to whip them out during a meeting, letting you focus on the important matters at hand.

Check together
Setting aside a period of time at the beginning of a meeting – a couple of minutes, for example – where participants can check their emails.

Once this is out of the way, you can get down to what’s on the agenda without the fear of someone interrupting proceedings by checking in.

Posted by Ashleigh Sharp


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