That's been my view for a long time. When I'm not distracting others or if there's not a guest/external speaker, I should be able to, and trusted to, manage my own attention.
As someone who is in a lot of meetings - particularly in some meetings which have a lot of people in them and when I'm not running them - I've recognized when I can listen in the background and do or think of other things - dialing back in when necessary.
To the standard objections I hear when I tell people this:
- Yes, I still need to be at the meeting even if its for only part of it or to prevent certain outcomes. I benefit sometimes from getting a sense of what's going on even if I'm fully engaged for only part of the meeting.
- Yes, it is suboptimal for the meeting sometimes but I do think it can be optimal for the team overall (i.e. its more efficient for me and others in the meeting) to be multi-tasking.
- The first turned into a long brainstorming session - and left me excited for days afterwards
- The second was a review in which in I had to participate only briefly - but the fact that I could do little else forced to me to pay more attention to the speakers and made me carefully evaluate all the points made and think of extensions to what was being discussed. I left a lot smarter on the topic than I suspect I would have under usual circumstances.