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Topless meetings for team focus?

When it's hard to stay focused, try going 'topless' to meetings - San Jose Mercury News

Our good pals over at Adaptive Path have been experimenting with banning laptops and other communication devices in meetings (something I've supported in the past). From today's Mercury News:

Frustrated by distracted workers so plugged in that they tune out in the middle of business meetings, a growing number of companies are going "topless," as in no laptops allowed. Also banned from some conference rooms: BlackBerrys, iPhones and other personal devices on which so many have come to depend...

But as laptops have gotten lighter and smart-phones even smarter, people have discovered a handy diversion, making more eye contact these days with their screens than one another. The practice became so pervasive that Todd Wilkens turned to his company blog to wage his "personal war against CrackBerry..."

His San Francisco design firm, Adaptive Path, now strongly encourages everyone to leave their laptops at their desks. His colleague, Dan Saffer, coined the term "topless" as in "laptop-less." Also booted are mobile and smart-phones, which must be stowed on a counter or in a box during meetings. It took some convincing, but soon people began connecting with one another rather than with their computers, Wilkens said.

"All of our meetings got a lot more productive," he said.

[via Dan Saffer]

The Question to You

Has your team tried some version of topless meetings? How did it work for you? Anybody tried it and given up? How did the meetings change without the toys being on?

bgrayless's picture

Stop the Zombious Madness

I cannot say enough about the need to get people's attention during a meeting, but there has got to be some happy medium. I absolutely love the productivity I get out of my Mac-infested world (iPhone, MacBook Pro, etc...). However, when we have a meeting, sure people might be listening just enough to capture any major todos being offloaded to them, but they are in a zombie-like state. They don't contribute (unless the conversation affects their workload for the negative) and they don't want to be there. So, they check their email, chat, pretend to be monitoring a crucial server infrastructure in fakey-made-up-land.

Hello people!!! A meeting is supposed to be between people (conscious people), not half-borg morphs with their hands stuck on their digital devices. Perhaps, there can be proper rules and etiquette enforced that resolve some of this scenario, but I have to agree with mattw. If it is a well-run, organized meeting involving several people, someone should be in charge of organizing the agenda and sticking to it, not straying off on tangents that can be referenced from a computer. Keep the larger meeting to the agenda - brief and to the point (hand out an outline with space where everyone can make notes).THEN, after you've had the structured meetings involving human eye contact and interaction, you can then meet the small number of others that actually care about your reference material and you can all bring your laptops. People are less likely to zone out on their laptops with meetings of 2-5 anyway.

Ideas and solutions just don't get produced when people are that distracted.




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