Or what I would do as a manager
If you really think about it, we don’t work that much when we are in the office. Sure, we get things done, but I’m not talking about this. I’m talking about doing meaningful things, having ideas, being innovative.
Just remember the last time you had that great idea, or think about your greatest work. I bet it wasn’t done while you were sitting on your chair, surrounded by the 40-50 people you share your open space with.
For some it was really early in the morning, when you were the first one in the office. Or while you were commuting, or in the shower (I always have some great ideas in the shower or on the toilet). Or probably when you were sick and had to work from home.
And this because we get distracted. We get distracted by our colleagues, by our boss, by the endless meetings and conferences. The moments when we can work at something for at little as 1-2 hours without being interrupted are extremely rare.
Until we are able to work from whatever place we chose and at whatever hour we want here is what I would do and propose you all try:
- Make your whole team not talk with each other for a day once a month (or at least half a day) – you will see that a lot of stuff will get done and this because people will be able to concentrate on the their job without anyone bothering or interrupting them. This will probably be the best job benefit you can offer to your team.
- Cancel your meetings – go to your calendar and cancel half of your meetings and then go and do it again. If there are more than 3-4 people in a meeting, you can probably skip it. Even most of the 3-4 person meetings could be replaced by a short email. Give time to people to put their ideas in order and afterwards they can just send you an email with anything they would like you to know. The world won’t end, everything will be just fine.
- Replace most of the active communication with passive communication – if someone comes to your desk you will have to talk with that person. And even if it is for 20 seconds, you will have to stop what you are doing, don’t think at the problem you had in mind, and offer your attention to that person. But if we replace this with emails or even instant messages, we gain control on the moment we want to be interrupted. We can quit Outlook or our IM app, but we can’t quit our boss or our colleague. You finish your tasks and then you spend a few minutes checking you email. Also, it is enough if you check your email 2 or 3 times a day. For must of us there aren’t any urgent things that need our immediate attention.
So encourage your team to use emails and IMs.
I hope these ideas will help or at least encourage you to change the way you work.