The uses of personal communication devices in corporate environments
The rise of smartphones in the past decade has created situations in which individuals use them in public and private domains. More recently there has been an increase in the adoption of smartphones by corporations; what is not very well understood is their use within meetings. In this dissertation I present quantitative and qualitative data from two online surveys conducted two years apart on the type of smart mobile devices used in meetings, and the attitudes and behaviours of meeting participants towards their usage. The results from the two surveys included four key findings: (1) meeting participants believed that multitasking with a mobile device was a commonly adopted activity; (2) participants took a more accepting attitude towards using certain mobile devices (specifically laptops) in meetings; (3) it was somewhat acceptable to make work-related calls or send text messages regarding work-related emergency matters using smartphones during meetings; and (4) individuals in management tended to think that making important work-related calls during meetings was acceptable. Furthermore, from a list of six types of departments, the operations department tended to rate texting important work-related messages during meetings as acceptable compared with other departments.
After reviewing the data from surveys I and II, it was determined that more detailed data were required to observe people’s actual behaviours in live meetings. As a result, a study was devised to simulate a meeting scenario in which one individual would receive and send text messages. Eight video recordings of meeting participants were captured and analyzed to assess their resulting attitudes and behaviours. In four of the meetings text messages arrived in two clusters (i.e., five text messages at the beginning and three at the end of the meeting), while for the remaining four meetings text messages arrived evenly distributed throughout the meeting.
The data from those meetings suggest that the participants in the evenly distributed text messages group of meetings interacted with their mobile devices more often but on a less obtrusive level by checking their phone status. The participants in the clustered grouping of text messages group of meetings tended to produce more negative comments (verbal and non-verbal) regarding the actor and their own phone usage. When the actor received a text message, participants tended to give a negative non-verbal gesture, such as gazing at him, or when participants used their own mobile phones they tended to provide a verbal justification of their own use.