Phones today have sort of become another appendage for us – we’re constantly on them even when we don’t have anything specific to check or reply to. At Kingfisher Recruitment, we are winding our phone use back in meetings and when visiting clients. In fact, we have a no phone policy in meetings – none – zero.
If you have your phone on the table in a meeting it sends a message that this meeting and its attendees are just not that important to warrant your full concentration. Consequently, we introduced a phone-ban in conferences and meetings to encourage our staff to have conversations and continue to build rapport with one another. Having your head down looking at your phone quite simply shuts you off from the outside world.
Take our weekly Monday morning team meeting as an example: a couple of people turn up early, a few turn up just before it starts and others turn up right on time. What we noticed is that the people who arrive early are just staring at their phones looking busy – and not trying to talk to the other people in the room.
The time before and after a meeting is often just as important as the meeting itself, as it is an opportunity to engage in conversation and build relationships – but phones get in the way of this. When you remove phones then you’re sitting at the table with someone else and you’re naturally going to start a conversation, and this is where relationships are created which can then extend into new ideas and innovation.
Another great opportunity that is lost if a person is on their phone is when waiting in the reception area for a meeting. If you take the phone away you can look around and notice information on display such as branding, marketing collateral, and awards on the wall. This gives you insightful information about the people and the company which can lead to great conversation starters and again leads to better rapport and engagement.
At a recent conference, we ditched the phones at the beginning of each day. After the initial anxiety of not having the phone close by, our staff found they engaged more with their coworkers in both breaks and meetings, and generally felt more focused.
Many companies spend thousands on team building exercises to get their staff to know each other better and to connect – but we’ve discovered a simple disconnect can achieve similar results. Now is as good as time as ever have that de-tox and simply put those phones away – they don’t belong in the boardroom.