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30-11-2010

I set up our business virtually because working in an office is just not productive.

If you have to work in an office, try these things:

  • No talk Thursday. Don’t talk to other people in the office for a day!
  • Switch from active (face-to-face) communications to passive communications. We’ve just started using Yammer.
  • Cancel your meetings.

Thanks Jason, we love Basecamp.

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10 Responses

  1. This resonated with me, having worked the last 4 years off-site. I have achieved more volume, quality of work in that time than I could have in previous office jobs because I’m not affected by “office distractions”. I am currently neck-deep in a project where the stakeholders and managers pick up the phone to ask a single question instead of compiling a list of questions and disseminating to the team once or twice a day. It reminds me of how we used to work back in the late 90s, early 00s. It’s so ineffective and without the text-trail, conversations can’t be shared and requests/changes can’t be instantly tracked against project scope or sprint plan. The dozen interruptions per day means that team members can’t ever achieve that level of deep thought required to solve complex design or code issues.

    This talk validates my concerns about the “pick up the phone and ask” method of project management.

  2. Thanks Sam!
    You can equate the hassles in an office with this presentation about poor usability.
    http://www.slideshare.net/jamesbreeze/usability-affects-our-lives-world-usability-day
    I guess what I am saying that office work = stress. Not from politics, but from constant interruptions!

  3. I think in a longer talk he would have covered collaboration which (I feel) tends to be much better when you are co-located with your team, but I like the idea that even in an office you can choose to turn off your passive methods of communication without fear of rebuke.

  4. While it’s much easier to get into a “flow” state when working in a quiet space, there can be a high price to pay in terms of org culture, team interaction and knowledge sharing.

    At Step Two, we’ve deliberately got a generously-sized office for the team (at least those in Sydney), because we want be more than just a collection of individuals. Time spent chatting is not time wasted from our perspective…

  5. Gary Barber 01/12/10
  6. Lol I can’t even seriously remember what office distractions are. After having not seriously worked in an office for the last 15 years they are just some unworldly issue. Even when I was doing contract work in-house, there just wasn’t any distractions as the locals treated you like transient and just ignored you.

    That said then issue of distractions still exisit for solo workers just different type of distraction.

  7. James, That’s great if you can afford a generous office!

    We’re finding that virtual working supported by good online comms with email, Skype, plus regular Monday WIPs in person or on conference call and good project comms with Google apps, Basecamp, wiki etc is working well! Believe me, it has taken a while to get the right mix of online tools, but we are getting there!

    We are enjoying Yammer for sharing info and updates so that everyone know’s who’s doing what. Plus it is searchable and you can include links to interesting stuff. The water cooler conversation knowledge it not lost at all!

    Oh, some good lunches help too!

    We’ll see how we go as we grow! We have recently needed to have an office so the eye tracker is set up and available all the time, but I am encouraging the virtual mindset as well.

    I hope my guys feel happy about staying home and working. I know in other organisations I’ve been in that it was said you can work at home but I felt guilty for doing so. Now I encourage it! When I hear of an opportunity in someone’s diary I tell them to feel free stay at home! I takes a while to get used to the autonomy but when you in the groove it is great! It means you can have a surf or go for a jog during the day and work your 8 hours whenever it suits you!

  8. Yes, thanks Gary! The good thing to know is that it doesn’t take long to work with the other distractions! Unless they are small humanoids wanting a parents’ attention!

  9. Joanna 02/12/10
  10. I work for Objective and can confirm the benefits of working from home. Yammer is definitely our water cooler - we use it for serious stuff and for silly stuff! And we still frequently consult each other to solve problems. Because we are all accustomed to working virtually, its just normal to ask for help using whatever method seems best - phone, email, yammer, skype, chat!

  11. James

    Yammer’s a neat tool…but here’s why we moved to Salesforce Chatter …which is free. Look forward to catching up soon. http://www.zerocapex.com/2011/05/why-we-only-stammered-with-yammer/

  12. Cheers Clive. We’re just struggling with the cost of salesforce ;)

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