I’m not a huge fan of working in offices anymore. Not only am I rather out of practice (only one year in the past 10 have I gone into an “office” everyday), but I find them one of the biggest anti-workplaces I know. I enjoy writing and working in a coffee shop more than an office. Why?
In an office there are people (well, duh), but because there are people you have to abide by standard social norms. If someone calls your name, not responding is considered rather rude. Never answering your phone or not showing up to meetings is “not being a team player”. Yeah, great, but what about “getting work done”, when do I get to do that?
This video by 37Signals Jason Fried (which I found thanks to WebWorkerDaily—Why Modern Workplaces Don’t Work – WebWorkerDaily) tells it like it is. The “workplace” is the worst place to get work done.
When I need to write something, concentrate on something, think, read, or code (i.e. work) I need get into that mode and zone. I need some focus and some quiet, and not to be asked random questions or asked to look at something. So on go the noise-isolating earbuds— pretty much these ones in fact-Shure Sound Isolating In-Ear Earphones (SE115) – Red – Future Shop—and away goes the world.
Not quite up there on the “workplace etiquette” scale through.
So, what I suggest is something in between, let’s call it hiding in plain sight. Start with:
- Ignore IMs
- Book blocks of time “busy” on your calendar, which is really code for “I”m working don’t bug me.”
- Let your phone go to voicemail.
- Turn off audio notifications for email, etc.
Essentially turn the tables on your co-workers. Instead of attention, demand inattention. I know, this is extremely anti-social. With open-concept offices, someone is going to wander by (or throw something) or call out your name to get your attention. Here’s the thing, maybe have them watch Jason’s video. Ask your manager to consider having “standing meetings” where you don’t sit, you stand (pretty much guaranteed to make the meeting last about 20 mins max). Try to work on building a culture of working at work and giving people the time and space to work, instead of a culture of interruption.
Or, you can just work from home.