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04 Jan

"I want you to turn off your cellphone"

Date: 2010-01-04 09:34 Comments: 0 st

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.

This one.

And this.

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.

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