Why people can’t get work done at work

Last week’s blog spoke about the shift away from telecommuting by a few large organizations who are requiring workers to come to the office to get work done.  During this TED Talk Why people can’t get work done at work, Jason Fried has a radical theory of working: that the office isn’t a good place to do it. At TEDxMidwest he lays out the main problems (call them the M&Ms) and offers three suggestions to make work work.

Jason has been asking people for the past 10 years “Where do you go when you really need to get something done?”  They never answer “at the office”.  Typical answers are: the kitchen, the porch, the basement, the coffee shop, the library, train, plane – really early in morning, late at night or weekends.

He also speaks about how we go to work and have work moments – 15 minutes here and there. At the end of the day, you look back and realize you got nothing done. Creative people – designers, programmers, writers – really need long stretches of uninterrupted time. Very few people have this kind of time at the office.

You’ll find the discussion about M&Ms (Managers and Meetings) about 9 minutes in. His 3 suggestions are:

1. Instead of Casual Friday, implement No Talk Thursdays

2. Instead of in-person communication (or interruptions),encourage passive communication – email, IM, collaboration tools.  Passive communication allows you control over your interruptions vs. having to interrupt yourself (when you are getting a lot done) for a scheduled meeting.

3. Cancel the next meeting.  Everything will be just fine.
If you have some uninterrupted time, watch the whole video and let us know what you think –  Is it a radical theory or reality?