At least, ban their use in meetings suggests a Forbes article this week.
Sometimes the cure is worse than the disease. To avoid wasting time in meetings, hardcore multitaskers sit there with their faces glued to their BlackBerrys, reading e-mails while they follow the discussion with one ear. But all they are doing is making the meeting longer for everyone else.
“Being busy and being productive are not the same,” says Denise Landers, a time-management consultant based in Houston. “I definitely believe that banning BlackBerrys from a conference room would lead to shorter and more effective meetings. We simply cannot multitask and perform at 100%.”
Another recent study, this one by the University of Texas at Austin, offers hope. Titled “The Social Influences of Electronic Multitasking in Organizational Meetings,” this report concludes that people don’t multitask because they have to; they multitask simply because they can. They see other people reading e-mail during meetings, so they do it too. But if the office culture discourages multitasking during meetings, they will stop, and focus on the issue at hand.
Even deeply ingrained habits are subject to change over time, Crenshaw notes. As every fan of Mad Men knows, smokers once routinely lit up during meetings. Now they don’t. The same thing can happen to multitasking.
“I view myself as an evangelist,” he says. “It’s going to take probably another decade of talking about this before people get the message.”
Does your workplace have a Blackberry policy? Do you?
Where I work people rarely if ever use a Blackberry while in a meeting, unless to look something up or to take a quick glance to ensure no emergencies have arisen (a few colleagues need to be available 24/7 to put out virtual “fires”). If the senior people and mentors follow this policy, it seems others stay in line.