The fact that it is technologically possible to check email from just about anywhere doesn’t mean that one should check email from just about anywhere. The broad accessibility of email through portable electronic devices is creating an epidemic of email etiquette violations. It is generally impolite to check email in the middle of a meeting while someone else is speaking. It can also be counterproductive. Imagine a room full of people ignoring the speaker while emailing under the table. Or perhaps you don’t have to imagine it; perhaps you’ve been there.
Naturally, you have to navigate your corporate culture, the demands and expectations of your manager, and so on. But many people have no such excuse for their bad behavior. They spend meetings emailing other people who are not at the meeting, not because they have to but because they can. People who are actually at the meeting, of course, know what the emailers are doing under the table. The emailers risk offending not only the speaker but also others who are participating fully and thoughtfully in the discussion.