Face-to-Face, not Facetime

I used to like going to meetings in our government office (well, most of the time), but I am not sure I would feel the same way today.  To be honest, the best part may have been the donuts and/or other pastries that would appear in the center of the table.  I also gained a few pounds over those years, but those culinary incentives usually assured that most staff would attend, usually with a freshly brewed cup of coffee in hand (those were also the pre-Starbucks days).  They really were old-fashioned meetings with all their open and hidden agendas on display.  You really got to know and/or distrust certain colleagues pretty quickly.

The abundance of all our technological tools has changed all that.  “Meetings?  Ha!  Who has the time?  An article in the British Psychology Society’s Research Digest said a third of all meetings are unproductive, costing companies $37 billion a year (Washington Post, 2/13/17).”  And even when you go to these meetings most attendees are usually distracted with their heads down, looking at their smartphones.  That’s if you even bother to attend.  If you are not at the meeting’s location, just “dial in” from wherever you are: watch on your computer or just listen on your phone.  There seem to an increasing number of partially occupied conference rooms in government buildings where scheduled  meetings are held.  I think coffee may still be a mainstay at these meetings, but I am not sure if you can multitask while eating a donut, and keep up with all that’s going on.

John Kelly, who authored the article in the Washington Post quoted above, wonders if our ability to multitask during meetings has just spawned more meetings.  “Someone should probably schedule a meeting to discuss that.”

Ray Myers


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