Is The Office Anti-Work?
The good people over at Career Overview recently tossed this over the transom: “Why Work Doesn’t Work: 10 Fatal Flaws of the Modern Day Office.”
Some interesting ideas here. It’s true that interruptions (which you get a lot of in most offices) make sustained meaningful mental effort almost impossible. Meetings, of course, are the ultimate anti-work. In WG’s experience, most people who spend eight-hour days in offices only get around four hours of actual work done.
And–something many companies just don’t want to believe–information workers can’t be productive for eight-hour stretches. The brain boggles after around three hours. Yeah, you may keep on “working,” but it is a mere shadow of its former self.
It makes intuitive sense. When WG switched from workplace editing to at-home editing, her productivity tripled. Today, her clients get meaty beefy hours of high-quality work. And WG spends fewer hours working.
Still, is it really true that “face to face collaboration isn’t needed anymore”? Yes, WG has a client she’s worked with for years and has met only once in real life. And, yes, this system is humming along just fine. But she isn’t working with him. She’s providing an independent product.
For teams of people who are designing/repairing/evaluating an object or service, taking advantage of the energy and creativity that happens when human brains function in close proximity can be key. Not to mention, toiling together toward a common goal is one of life’s more pleasurable experiences.
Plus, it can be good for you. Don’t you find that when you are in the company of smart, innovative people you become smarter and more innovative yourself? (You may also find the opposite to be true.)
Prediction: The most successful companies of the future will be the ones that find a way to combine the bliss and benefits of uninterrupted productivity with the amazing dynamism (and bliss!) of in-person collaboration.