WASHINGTON – Although nearly every professional has one nearby, most workers consider using their mobile phone during business meetings to be unprofessional.
Younger professionals are far more accepting, though.
A new study published in Business Communication Quarterly surveyed 550 full-time professionals and finds that writing and sending emails or texts, checking texts or emails, making or taking phone calls, and browsing the internet are considered strongly inappropriate in formal business meetings, and slightly more acceptable in informal meetings.
More specifically, 59 percent of men consider it sometimes or usually appropriate to check text messages during a meeting, while only 34 percent of women believe the same.
The difference is even more pronounced when it comes to taking a phone call. Half the men in the survey feel it’s okay to answer a call during a meeting – almost twice as many men as women feel the activity is acceptable.
According to the study, composing and sending texts is considered less civil – only 43 percent of men feel it is appropriate during a meeting, while 23 percent of women agree.
The differences between the generations are the most remarkable, according to the researchers.
During formal meetings, a majority of younger professionals, between 21 and 30, consider checking text messages and emails as appropriate – they are three times more likely to consider that behavior as appropriate than professionals above the age of 40.
The area of the largest disconnect is in informal meetings.
Of the youngest workers, 80 percent believe it is acceptable to check emails and send texts during an informal lunch, but only 30 percent of professionals between the ages of 51 and 65 agree.
Professionals with higher incomes are less accepting of mobile phone use during meetings. The study’s authors suspect that is because higher-earning professionals are usually older and in higher positions, and sensitive to subordinates who distract attention during meetings.