"If you have a meeting coming up and you have the power to do so, just cancel it."
Jason Fried, Founder of 37 Signals started asking people where they go when they need to get something done. The answers consistently fell into one of three categories: a place (a quiet room in the house, a coffee shop, the basement), a moving object (airplane, bus, train) or a time (early in the morning or late at night). People rarely said "the office".
Jason argues that people don't mention the office as a place to get things done for one simple reason - interruptions. In his TED Talk: Why work doesn't happen at work, Jason says that there are two main involuntary distractions at work which don't happen in other places that stop people from getting things done: managers and meetings. In short, his theory is that managers stop you from doing what you're doing (working) to ask you what you're doing and to tell you what else you should be doing. Meetings stop you from doing what you're doing (working) to talk about what you're currently doing or what you will be doing.
To give something deep thought people need long, uninterrupted stretches of time and that usually doesn't happen in a typical office environment. So what can be done to give people less distractions and more time to get things done at the office?
"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape."
- Schedule less meetings: "If you have a meeting coming up and you have the power to do so, just cancel it." Everything will be fine. Don't have meetings just to have meetings. Jason argues that a 1 hour meeting is never really a 1 hour meeting - if 10 people are in the "1 hour meeting" then it's really a 10 hour meeting.
- Utilize technology: Collaboration can be done with tools like instant messaging, web cams, and cloud based software (like AgencyBloc). Tools like Goolge Drive allow multiple people in different locations to work on the same project at the exact same time.
- Quiet areas: Designate a room or an area of your office where people can go and get away from distractions. I am actually writing this blog post in a designated "quiet area" where I can get away from distractions and sit down to write completely uninterrupted.
- Tame your inbox: Email fits right in with managers and meetings as a top distraction for some people. Here are 5 ways to tame your inbox and make it less of a distraction.
- Move towards a "virtual agency": With high-speed data lines, server warehouses accessed through Internet browsers, individual phone transfer ability, active customer friendly websites, why do we all gather at one expensive location to do our work? Steve Anderson discusses this in his webinar titled "The Virtual Agency: How to Sell and Service Anywhere, Anytime".
Has your agency tried some version of a virtual office? What are some of the pros and cons?