Getting around mobile phone restrictions on meetings

A mobile phone ban can be a threat to your project.

A mobile phone ban can be a threat to your project.

Some meeting locations might impose mobile phone usage restrictions on you during meetings – while you’re working on a critically important task on the side. This hardships must be dealt with.

Typical problem situations occur when you enter an industry facility where people don’t want their company secrets photographed with cell phones. Board meetings might disallow phones due to the fact that you could use them as a dictaphone. Tendering and auctioning might ban mobile phones, as you’re not supposed to call your telephone joker.

Most annoying, certain government agencies might ask you to file your mobile phone with your ID card at the reception upon entering the building – leaving you in the peculiar situation to argue that even though your are a travelling cosmopolite working in the hi-tech industry, today – just today – you didn’t bring any of your iPhones and other mobile communication toys to this important meeting.

Such shameful situations can, fortunately, be easily avoided.

  • First, make sure your phone is silent. Next, you can always pretend stomach sickness or bladder infection to find excuses to go to the bathroom to make your coordination calls and check your messages. However, take care of time & context – we’ve heard stories about people getting accidentally locked into the building while they’ve been doing their e-mail in the bathroom, and in consequence missing the meeting dinner!
  • Second, you can use an outside colleague as a proxy, translating incoming calls and your replies to e-mail – if e-mail is an option. Or – being bold – listen in to your party via Skype, and reply through a chat.
  • Third, you can use the PDA covered under the meeting table, if you train your skills in pretending to read the paperwork on the edge of the table, while really looking at your Blackberry residing on your lap.
  • Fourth, tackling the camera problem, I can recommend to travel with at least two phones – your current show-off business phone, and some rather matured model lacking most features. Most hosts can be convinced that a 2002 Nokia phone is of no threat to their secrets. Just switch phones!
  • Fifth, the government agency’s “drop the phone” policy. Well… bring two phones. Drop one, keep one. Professionals actually bring three phones, two of which are using paired phone cards reachable under the same number. In case they get phone number two confiscated during the government meeting, they still are fully operative with number three and the paired SIM card.

While you’re travelling with several phones, why not use them for your personal popularity check? If you’re invited to a phone conference, just dial in long before the conference with one phone with numbers turned off. Stay anonymous, turn the microphone off, and listen. Officially, you will turn up in the phone conference some minutes late with the other phone. While you’re officially being late, the others will start to talk about you, as you’re not there. Listen, and dial in the official call once you’ve heard enough!

However, some conference systems will tell the moderator how many lines are dialed in. Smart moderators might terminate the conference as long as unidentified calls are present.

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3 comments to Getting around mobile phone restrictions on meetings

  • Johannes

    Your article solves many questions that I had. I now have an explanation for the voices in the other toilet cabins at the railway stations and rest areas at the highway. I always thought that “dirty things” are going on in there but it seems that there are only men at work.

  • tourist

    I’d say that this is a better office that most cubicles:

  • confessor

    I have heard that some people have a special meeting culture with queues of subordinates waiting in front of the toilet door for having the chance of discussing open issues with their boss. No question – it speeds the decision making process but I am wondering whether it improves the effectiveness of meetings significantly…..

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