App-rehensible behavior: Some want meetings to become a no-phone zone

Suzanne Sentry likes to tell her kids about simpler times, but she avoids tales about her idyllic childhood growing up in a small town outside of Iowa City, or about how their father swept her off her feet with handwritten poems that he’d leave in her backpack in high school. “They don’t want to hear that crap,” Sentry says. Instead, the 51-year-old loan officer tells — “lectures,” she admits — her two sons and two daughters about how the workplace of the past.

“They’re in their 20s and 30s — they need to know,” Sentry says. “I tell them people used to focus on the collective rather than the individual, that people didn’t walk around in their own little bubbles.”

And how does Sentry explain that halcyon past?

“No one walked around all day with a phone glued to the palm of their hand, obsessed with some stupid app,” she says.

At-work phone use is nothing new. In fact, it’s been a prominent feature of the workplace for years. It’s just that some people, like Sentry, have finally had enough — and some companies are starting to pay attention.

Eyes up

“There’s no excuse for you to be staring at a phone when we’re trying to have a one-on-one conversation,” says Sentry. “If I was telling you stories about my kids or my cats or something that you found incredibly boring, I can understand why your attention might drift. But if we’re talking about things that pertain to work — actual numbers, actual customers, actual things that will make or lose our bank money — then I’d ask that you can at least look me in the eye until I’m finished speaking.”

Sentry says she made a big enough stink about her co-workers’ phone-in-hand habits that her manager sent out an email asking employees to leave their phones at their desks when attending meetings.

Justin Lee wishes his company would ask its employees for the same courtesy. “I work for a company that tries different strategies to get employees to…

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