Fellow Yahoo Jeremy Zawodny writes about a not-quite-a-trend that many working folks (including myself) are starting to see more and more of: When meeting invitations are sent out, employees are being asked to leave their laptops at their desks.
The rationale is pretty obvious: Managers have grown tired of workers who bring their laptops into the conference room and use them for anything but working. While co-workers and bosses chatter and plan projects, the guys with the laptops play games, IM with their friends, and surf the web, courtesy of the company-provided Wi-Fi. As Zawodny notes, these guys are useless to the proceedings at best, and slow things down by frequently having to be brought up to speed at worst.
On the other hand, laptops are vital business tools and banning them makes little sense on the surface. That is, after all, why laptops were invented in the first place: So people could take their computer off their desk and into another environment, like a meeting, and be doubly productive. I'm sure many laptop users prefer typing to hand-writing notes, or using their machines to hook up to the conference room projector on an impromptu basis to share a chart or a drawing, or to quickly look up something on the web.
But in reality, those cases are probably pretty rare. It's just so much easier to print out 10 copies of a spreadsheet than to hook your machine up to a projector, focus it, dim the lights, and listen to people complain about the noise. Ultimately, laptops in conference rooms probably end up doing little actual work, truth be told.
That said, laptops may be more a symptom of meetings that were already useless rather than the cause. How many times have I wished I could catch up on my email instead of having to sit in a crowded conference room and listen to a stuffed shirt drone on about another grand, corporate design that will never come to pass? More than I can count. Now give me back my Minesweeper.
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