Where do you go when you need to get something done? According to Jason Fried, co-founder and president of the software company 37 Signals, the most common answers are a place or location, a moving object and a time of the day, but never the office. He describes the office as a ?time cuisinart? that shreds your days into bits, where employees trade a work day for a series of work moments. So people prefer to work at cafes, home, the kitchen, the library, planes, trains and a number of other places.
The main problem with getting work done at the office is that you are constantly interrupted by phone-calls, meetings, people dropping by your cubicle and all sorts of distractions. When people that are forced to work at the office need to get something done, they go really early in the morning or stay late, so that they are alone and can work without being interrupted. Fried blames the managers and the meetings for most of the interruptions.
He thinks meetings are very expensive to an organization because generally they take longer than needed and half of the people in the meeting should not be there. To make things worse they tend to "procreate", that is one meeting leads to another and to another more.
To explain why you cannot expect people to work well if they are being interrupted all day at the office, he compares it to sleeping. Both, work and sleeping, are phase based events. In order to get to a deeper phase first you need to go throught the previous phases.
So in the same way that you don t sleep well if you are being interrupted all the night, you don t work well if you are being interrupted all throughout your work day. Creative people need long stretches of time to do their work, but at the office it s even hard to get an hour of uninterrupted time, two or three hours would be a miracle.
So lets take a look of the three suggestions he gives for alleviating the office pain:
* Create a "no talk day": Choose a day of the week or the month were people should remain silent so that everyone can get their work done. It doesn t even need to be a whole day, it could be one morning or one afternoon or maybe just a period of the day.
* Cancel the next meeting: Pick one meeting that s scheduled periodically and cancel the next one. This will leave more time for your employees to do their work and nothing will happen for skipping a meeting.
* Switch from active ways of communication to passive ways of communication: E-mails, IMs and collaboration tools are less invasive because you can choose when to answer them, so that they don t interrupt you when you are very concentrated in your work.
Fried s ideas might be too provocative for your business, but you can probably adapt them to make your office more productive.
For example you can start using our collaborative software so that your communications are centralized in a non invasive channel that minimizes the interruptions while working. To learn more about Groobix collaborative modules, visit: Groobix.com
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Updated Jul 12, 2011
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