I originally thought what I’d observed the other day at a meeting was something reserved for less-formal environments, like radio. However, it seems even those immersed in what many consider a more “legitimate” corporate environment, like the one I’m currently in, do it too. And that is to have their face buried in their phones during a meeting.
Dangerously approaching a “back in my day” age, I went to school during a time when no electronics were allowed in the classroom. Yes we had calculators, but they were reserved for when the teacher specifically told us during a lesson to bring them out of our desks or cubby holes. And the calculator watches that were popular with boys at the time? Banned during tests. So I guess there’s a residual effect on my psyche that electronics are not allowed in a formal gathering, such as a meeting, unless there’s a specific reason to bring them out. That’s why I felt rather unsettled at what I observed the other day in our conference room.
I officially work at a financial company that uses radio as a marketing tool, so even though my workspace is still a radio studio, it’s within a sophisticated business environment. No longer do I don hoodies and jeans everyday, but instead wear dress pants and tops with an occasional skirt thrown in the mix. Comfortable shoes still rule the day, with sandals and Converse a common foot accessory.
My shows air in markets across the county, and on this day we were negotiating with a client in Pittsburgh. My boss and two other men were there with me, and we sat around a speaker for the conference call. After introductions were made, one of my colleagues began his presentation on audience numbers and the costs involved. That’s when the other men pulled out their phones and directed their full attention to their individual devices. Of course I didn’t have mine with me, and slowly looked around stunned that instead of a collective team we had turned into a disjointed gang of internet and email surfers.
Potential dates were given for our upcoming trip to Pennsylvania, and the client mentioned dates in October that wouldn’t work. Later on, I reminded one of the colleagues of those black-out dates, and he corrected me that those days were from September but he would double-check. My first thought was I knew I was correct because I actually listened to the conversation as it was happening, while he had been on the phone. However, I did not verbalize this and was vindicated when he later admitted I had been correct and proceeded with travel plans.
I’m a geek, thus technology is something that I love. However, I’m also a proponent of technology enhancing current customs and even making life easier on the one utilizing it, not adding complications or even confusion as was the case with this meeting. The person in front of you is always more important than the one on the phone, and if you’d rather be someplace else, then go there. I’d rather be alone and accomplishing something than with another whose phone glare is blinding them to the fact that they’re wasting my time.