Why the Office is the Worst Place to Work

by Rene Siegel on December 6th, 2010

Seven hours of meetings in one day and then you still have to get the “real” work done.

That’s what many of our corporate clients do daily in the high-tech marketing industry. Full-time employment isn’t even close to a 40-hour job any more. Seems they are not alone.

Jason Fried, a CNN reporter and author of a new book called Rework, says, “The modern office has become an interruption factory. You can’t get work done at work anymore.”

I’m thrilled on Fridays when usually only one other team member is there in our small office — because I get SO much done. And when I need to crank out an important article or focus on a strategic project, I’m always more efficient and creative between 10 pm and 2 am. Too many college cram sessions, I guess. On the other end of the spectrum, Michelle Stewart gets up at 5 am to plow through her email and tackle client issues before they even log in for the day.

The point is, not everyone works efficiently in a traditional office and this is why clients have reached out to High Tech Connect for home-based expert help over the past 14 years. We were freaking visionaries, way ahead of our time!

So how about some solutions? Jason says there are a lot of things you can do to discourage interruption at work and give people longer stretches of uninterrupted time to get things done. Here are a few:

1. Instead of casual Fridays, how about no-talk Thursdays? Try it. You won’t believe how effective it is. On Thursdays — and you can just try this once a month if you want — no one in the office can talk to each other. You’ll be blown away by how much work you’ll get done that day. I’m just asking for one day a month to start. Try it, trust me.

2. Use passive instead of active communication tools. When someone calls your name, knocks on your door, or stops you in the hallway, you can’t avoid them. Even if you try, you’re already distracted. So, instead of relying on so much face-to-face communication and collaboration — what I like to call “active” communication — try more passive methods of communication. Use e-mail. Use instant messaging. Use collaboration software. Here’s why: If people don’t want to pay attention, they can turn that tool off. They can hide it. They can put it away. You can’t put away a knock on your door or someone calling your name. But you can quit your e-mail app for a few hours. Then, when you’re ready, you can open it up — on your own schedule — and get back to people.

3. Cancel your next meeting. Or just don’t attend it. I’m not suggesting you boycott all meetings — just the next one. Life will go on. And all that stuff you thought you had to talk about with eight other people around a table will get worked out some other way. You’ll gain an hour of time you can spend on more important things. And so will those eight other people. Work can happen without that next meeting. Once you recognize that meetings aren’t as necessary as you thought, they’ll become a last resort instead of a first resort.

Here’s the entire CNN article and video from Jason.

What do you do to minimize interruptions at your job?

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