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Why checking emails during meetings can be beneficial

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  • Checking emails during meetings can ensure timely responses to urgent matters, preventing delays in project timelines.
  • When managed effectively, multitasking can lead to increased efficiency and productivity.
  • Establishing clear rules for email management during meetings can help maintain focus and professionalism.

The line between multitasking and distraction is often blurred. While many managers frown upon checking emails during meetings, recent insights suggest that this practice isn't necessarily detrimental. In fact, when done correctly, it can enhance productivity and ensure timely responses to urgent matters.

The Case for Checking Emails During Meetings

1. Immediate Responsiveness:

In the digital age, timely communication is crucial. Emails often contain urgent requests or critical updates that require immediate attention. By allowing professionals to check their emails during meetings, organizations can ensure that important issues are addressed promptly, preventing potential delays in project timelines.

2. Enhanced Multitasking:

Multitasking, when managed effectively, can lead to increased efficiency. According to a study by the Binghamton University, multicommunication can be beneficial when individuals balance their divided attention and manage expectations effectively. This means that professionals can handle multiple tasks simultaneously without compromising the quality of their work.

3. Flexibility in Hybrid Work Environments:

With the rise of hybrid work models, the dynamics of meetings have changed. Virtual meetings often come with their own set of challenges, including technical issues and varying levels of engagement. Allowing employees to check their emails can provide a productive outlet during less relevant parts of the meeting, keeping them engaged and informed.

Addressing the Concerns

1. Perception of Rudeness:

One of the primary concerns about checking emails during meetings is the perception of rudeness. David King, Canadian president of Robert Half Management Resources, notes that "while typing away on your device, your non-verbal cue may be that something is more important than the people sitting in the room with you, which could be viewed as disrespectful to colleagues". To mitigate this, it's essential to establish clear guidelines and communicate the acceptable contexts for checking emails.

2. Maintaining Focus:

Another concern is the potential loss of focus. Research indicates that juggling multiple conversations can decrease concentration and increase the likelihood of errors. To counter this, professionals should prioritize their tasks and only check emails when absolutely necessary. Setting specific times during the meeting for email checks can also help maintain overall focus.

Best Practices for Email Management During Meetings

1. Establish Clear Guidelines:

Organizations should develop a well-defined list of ground rules regarding the use of mobile devices in meetings. This ensures that employees understand when and how they can check their emails without disrupting the flow of the meeting.

2. Prioritize Urgent Messages:

Not all emails require immediate attention. Professionals should learn to distinguish between urgent and non-urgent messages, addressing only those that are critical during meetings. This selective approach helps maintain productivity without causing unnecessary distractions.

3. Use Technology Wisely:

Leveraging tools like email filters and notifications can help professionals manage their inboxes more efficiently. By setting up alerts for high-priority emails, they can stay informed about urgent matters without constantly checking their inboxes.

While the traditional view holds that checking emails during meetings is unprofessional, a more nuanced approach reveals potential benefits. By understanding the context and setting clear guidelines, professionals can balance email management with active meeting participation. This not only enhances productivity but also ensures that critical issues are addressed in a timely manner. In the ever-evolving workplace, flexibility and adaptability are key, and rethinking our approach to email management during meetings is a step in the right direction.

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