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Why Your Company Should Consider Topless Meetings

Posted: 10/10/2012 12:56 pm

A friend of mine, Max Valiquette, introduced me to the term "topless meetings." Before you forward this to your HR manager, the expression refers to a tabletop staying free of devices during meetings. No laptops. No iPhones. No iPads. No Blackberries. Nothing that requires a charge.

The idea underpinning device-free meetings is that such gadgets can prove more distracting than helpful. Ever had to reiterate a point because it was lost on someone reading an email (or checking Twitter, or any other activity our handhelds gloriously afford)? Or worse, had to ask for clarification because you were more caught up in your iPhone than the discussion? Therein lies the case for banning devices from meetings.

How meetings are conducted varies widely by company, and drastically by sector. So before crafting a memo lobbying for (or against) topless meetings, take careful stock of how meetings go down in your office, and of course, how critical your device is to your role.

When you pack up for your next meeting and look longingly at your phone, consider...

Are you chairing the meeting?

  • Permissible to bring your device, but plan to talk. A lot. If you are easily tempted to check your phone to the point it may affect your ability to lead the meeting, perhaps leave it at your desk.

Are you responsible for taking notes and sending a follow up?
  • Your task requires full concentration, so take notes eagerly. Having a calendar might be handy for follow up scheduling purposes, so be ready to whip one (electronic or paper) out.

Room full of clients or a very serious meeting topic?
  • Writing notes by hand sends an obvious signal to those around the table that you're fully present. If taking notes on a phone, they might (might!) wonder if you're working or playing as you type away.

Is your name on the company plaque out front?
  • By all means. Do whatever you like, boss.

Whether your phone stays on the table in front of you, or tucked away at your desk, be mindful of the chorus of rings and beeps it sends off. Silent or whisper quiet tones are office friendly. And check your settings to see whether your phone previews text that might not be ideal for the office.

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  • Your Brain

    Major cell phone releases guarantee a debate over technological superiority. And in the health community, the debate over cell phones' link to cancer is re-ignited. In a <a href="http://cleantechnica.com/2012/09/14/iphone-5-is-it-green/">Clean Technica blog </a>questioning the environmental friendliness of the iPhone 5, commenter vetxcl outright rejected the idea: "Smart phones emit more cancer causing radiation than other phones. This is a smart phone. Since it causes cancer, it is not green. It's that simple folks."

  • Emotional Health

    Does the thought of losing your cell phone make you panic? If so, join the club. In June, the digital security company Lookout surveyed 2,097 people, and revealed that 94 percent feared going without their mobile devices. (73 percent felt “panicked” when it happened.)

  • Eye Health

    The iPhone 5 is a multi-tasker’s dream. More like a pocket-sized computer, you can listen to music, review documents, and even analyze your facial attractiveness with a finger scroll. But unlike a computer, this device is smaller than the size of your hand. Those tiny fonts in bright screens can make you squint and strain your eyes, a problem that affects almost 70 per cent of American adults according to a new survey by the Vision Council, an organization that represents manufacturers of optical supplies. This can lead to computer vision syndrome, an eye condition that can lead to dry eyes, difficulty focusing, and even double vision.

  • Chronic Pain

    Two-time U.S. texting champion Austin Wierschke, 17, can type up to six characters per second, but one expert says that those fast fingers may lead to chronic pain later on in life. "When you're typing on a device with speed and repetition, you may cause pain and inflammation," says Dr. Dean Fishman, chiropractic physician and owner/operator of the Text Neck Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He originally coined the phrase "text neck" to describe the stress and pressure that can be triggered by mobile browsing and sending text messages.

  • Germs

    Your cell phone follows you everywhere — and for 75 per cent of Americans that includes the toilet – but are you keeping it clean? One study found fecal matter on 1-in-6 cell phones in Britain. That ick factor might make you cringe, but it can get you sick, too. Fecal matter can spread E. coli bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, urinary tract infections, and even kidney failure, which can be deadly. Bacteria can also spread to your skin and trigger breakouts.


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