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Should You Ban Laptops From Meetings?

written by paul bush posted on October 24, 2018

Efficiency in the workplace is paramount to success. This concept is widely held across office environments everywhere. But while technology plays an increasingly valuable role in the way the world does business, that’s not to say it doesn’t come with its own unique set of drawbacks. Laptops and mobile devices are presenting problems within the workplace, particularly in regard to productivity.

No Laptops In Meetings

In the workplace, screens often serve as barriers, and today’s businesses are tasked with coming up with new ways to minimize these technological distractions. One effective method? Banning laptops from meetings.

The research is clear: laptops and mobile devices are no good for productivity, especially when it comes to meetings. Banning laptops and mobile devices from meetings can boost both productivity and efficiency. From reducing the amount of time it takes to conduct a meeting, to encouraging employees to be more present and engaged, banning laptops may be the next big trend in business.

The Dangers Of Multi-Tasking

Technology that’s been designed to improve our productivity can actually serve as culprits. They can interfere with our point of focus, whether that be our boss or colleague during an important meeting or a lecturer in the midst of a seminar. Laptops distract from learning, both for users and for those around them.

Research shows that multi-tasking is a killer of productivity. This doesn’t apply to just individual productivity, either. It can also have negative effects on the organizational level, which is causing problems for businesses everywhere, regardless of industry. One report concluded that multitasking within organizations is even impacting the global economy, resulting in a loss of $450 billion.

The human brain simply does not retain information as well when there is a distraction like a laptop or mobile device competing for attention. There are numerous studies that back up these claims. In fact, when employees use their laptops or mobile phones during a meeting, they’re known to do a number of things that hinder productivity, including asking questions that have already been answered. It may seem like nothing but a minor inconvenience to some, but gather enough instances like this, and you’ll see how much time (and money) is at stake.

Not only is multi-tasking thought to hinder productivity, but it also makes employees more prone to distractions. Other negative effects include poor critical-decision-making and underperformance.

Benefits Of The Ban

There are several benefits to banning laptops from meetings. From boosting creativity to cutting down on meeting time and even encouraging engagement, banishing laptops from the meeting room may be doing your company more good than you initially realize. This is why a growing number of managers are making the call.

Here are some of the benefits associated with banishing laptops from meetings.

Time Management

Commanding complete attention during company meetings can lead to more valuable, engaging discussion. A meeting in which all participants can easily understand and contribute input concisely is an effective one.

More Engagement

One of the most important aspects of a meeting is being present in the moment. Staring at your screen makes this impossible. Employees fixated on their laptops won’t be able to make eye contact, and their body language may be off-putting during a meeting. Banning laptops during meetings is just one way to promote engagement and the sharing of ideas.

Better Comprehension

Writing notes by hand has been scientifically proven to help in information absorption. While taking notes during a meeting may at times be necessary, using a laptop to do it is not. Encourage teammates to use pen and paper to increase comprehension.

Tips To Take Control

Business owners and managers can do a number of things to further promote engagement during meetings. Once you’ve made the decision to ban laptops, you may want to put a solid system into place. Establishing a firm “no laptop” rule during meetings will help things remain consistent across the board. You may even consider a check-your-laptop-at-the-door rule that will help drive the point on home with your colleagues. If you are hosting a remote meeting where laptops are necessary, implement a rule that states all other apps and windows must be closed. This small step alone can help increase comprehension and cut down on distractions.

Banning laptops may seem futile if you are wasting time in other ways. A good rule of thumb is to let employees know how long the meeting will be, as well as whether or not there will be breaks. Not only is this common courtesy, but it can also help minimize the anxiety that may come with not having instant access to emails and texts.

If you know that your meeting will consist of need-to-know information, encourage fellow employees to use pen and paper. By providing these tools ahead of time, you’ll make it that much easier for your team to follow through.

These small steps can do wonders for promoting productivity and helping your employees make the most of their time in the office. While laptops are commonplace in today’s office setting, and often vital for productivity, leaving them off the table for a while (literally) can act as the first step toward more meaningful meetings.

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