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04 Jan

"I want you to turn off your cellphone"

Datum: 2010-01-04 09:34

A cou­ple of weeks ago, I vis­it­ed Fläkt Woods in Växjö, Swe­den, in order to hold a course in per­son­al pro­duc­tiv­i­ty for their staff. Fläkt Woods is a glob­al busi­ness in ven­ti­la­tion solu­tions and they are the mar­ket leader in their field.

Meet­ing them was impres­sive in many ways. One thing was what I saw when I strolled around the office land­scape before the course started.
On the door of a con­fer­ence room and on the wall near­by, I saw two signs. 

When using your telephone
I want you to turn off your cell phone

I like that they have agreed on some ground rules to fol­low for the every­day work to flow smooth­ly. In this case regard­ing the meet­ing cul­ture and what to do when you need to take an impor­tant call dur­ing a meeting.

The four meet­ing guide­lines are:

  • Always be in time for meetings
  • Nev­er talk in the phone dur­ing meetings
  • Switch off or put the phone into silent mode dur­ing meetings
  • If you have to take an impor­tant call dur­ing a meet­ing, step out before you answer

The need for the sec­ond sign, that you should take phone calls in an emp­ty con­fer­ence room, stems from the fact that they sit in an open plan office.

Clear, sim­ple guide­lines fos­ter creativity

I guess that there are those who think that rules like these are a man­i­fes­ta­tion of a finicky men­tal­i­ty and that they sti­fle cre­ativ­i­ty, but for me sim­ple guide­lines like these swift­ly elim­i­nate sources of frus­tra­tion, that oth­er­wise would low­er the organisation’s efficiency.

In my cours­es we usu­al­ly do an inven­to­ry of the time thieves the par­tic­i­pants expe­ri­ence in their dai­ly life. One that is always men­tioned is inef­fi­cient meet­ings where peo­ple arrive late, answers the phone dur­ing the meet­ing or con­stant­ly run out to take calls.

But, does it work?

One could ques­tion how much impact a sign like these does. Fredrik, my host at Fläkt Woods, tes­ti­fied that ever since they agreed on the guide­lines, the sit­u­a­tion has clear­ly improved. He said:

It could be even bet­ter, but we notice a defin­i­tive difference.”

What are your agreements?

What guide­lines have you agreed on in your organ­i­sa­tion, that make the every­day work flow more smooth­ly? Please leave a com­ment below.