Many of us have probably sent an email while dialed into a conference call. (In fact, 63 percent of us have, according to a recent survey conducted by InterCall, the world’s largest conference call company.) Perhaps you’ve even texted (44%) or wrapped up other work (65%). In a world where multitasking has increasingly become the norm, crossing other things off your to-do list while you’re on a group call simply seems like good time management.But is it really? Rob Bellmar, executive vice president of conferencing and collaboration for InterCall, says that multitasking attendees may point to larger issues with the way meetings are run. Today’s business world runs on too many meetings, many of which are too long and have too many attendees. This leads to boredom, lack of engagement and mere activity instead of productivity. To make meetings more meaningful, Tuck Business School professor Paul Argenti suggests meeting organizers ensure all details are confirmed and well communicated in advanced, follow traditional meeting best practices (always have an agenda!) and assign different tasks to participants (minutes recorder, Q&A manager) to ensure that people stay engaged.The good news, notes Argenti, is that it doesn’t matter where you are when you take the call. “You can be completely engaged on the beach, in your car, on an airplane. That’s not the variable that matters.” And that’s pretty important, given that respondents to InterCall’s survey had taken calls from some strange places, among them: “Fitting room while trying on clothes,” “the closet of a friend’s house during a party” and “Chasing my dog down the street because she got out of the house.”What about you? Are there too many conference calls in your work schedule? Let us know in the comments – and, if you haven’t yet imagined how a conference call would translate to a real work setting, check out this video.
If you're reading this while on a conference call - perhaps even in the loo - you're not alone.