November 3, 2015

Productivity

Work should be work sometimes

By Alexander Sergeev

A Melbourne design agency Navy has divided a working day of the employees into 2 parts — a “silent” (when there must be silence in the office) and a usual one. Ollie Campbell, an employee of the company, has told in his blog how it allowed the agency to increase productivity of their workers by 23% and make a 4-day working week. Darja Hohlova has translated and shared this material.

“Team work may be amazing. Nothing compares to the feeling of deep understanding when colleagues can literally read each other’s thoughts. Working together, they create something new that has never existed before”, — the author writes. He also quotes Google’s Eric Schmidt: “Smart creatives thrive on interacting with each other. The mixture you get when you cram them together is combustible.”

Modern IT-companies tend to prefer open space offices. In a new Facebook office there will be 2800 employees working in one room. It’s one of the biggest open spaces in the world. Mark Zuckerberg suggests that working in such a place will encourage people to cooperate and share ideas.

“But we have to pay for cooperation. Every minute you spend talking to your colleagues, you don’t work on your own tasks. While some of them need a total immersion, when only you and a blank paper exist”, — says Ollie Campbell.

 

That’s the way a popular psychologist Mihai Chiksentmihai describes the state of mind of a person who immerses into a task totally and loses a connection with reality: “It’s a time when the best ideas occur to a person and he/she can solve the most difficult problems.”

So, every moment you spend talking to other people, you lose a chance to get one of your best ideas.

Campbell says that it’s usually noisy at work. Notifications, new letters, phone calls, constant conversations and unplanned meetings  — all these create a noise. “Sometimes your work becomes a place of a fantastic energy but ”

?? ??????? ?????, ????? ????????, ???????? ??????? ?????. ???????????, ????? ??????, ?????????? ??????, ?????????? ?????? ? ????????????????? it may be difficult to concentrate on your tasks”. The author of the material remembers an investigation carried out by American analysts who found out that an average period of concentration between breaks for checking emails or making phone calls makes up 3 minutes.

In the majority of companies, a designer goes on, an employee can’t suppose whether his/her day will be productive or not. Unplanned meetings or other interruptions can break your working plan. According to Campbell, it’s wrong. Any employee should have a possibility to choose when to concentrate and when to communicate with colleagues.

“A cooperation has a great meaning for representatives of creative professions. But a possibility to concentrate is also very important”, — Campbell says.

 

“Quiet time”

The company where Campbell works tried to solve the problem of an absence of a possibility to concentrate on tasks for their employees. They introduced “quiet time”.

Every day is divided into 2 parts: usual work and work in silence. During “quiet time” employees turn off notification on their smartphones and other devices, don’t talk on phones, don’t conduct meetings and don’t communicate with each other.

An employee can spend “quiet time” as he/she likes. “It’s the time when only I decide whether to concentrate on a definite problem or do something else. Nobody can interrupt me,” — the author of the material explains.

 

How the company managed to introduce such a schedule?

Campbell says that firstly they needed a correlation between a “quiet” and “usual” time. It was decided to devote half of the day from Monday to Thursday for a concentrated work. In the evening employees could discuss the results they got and make plans for the next day. “The team gathered together and we discussed what we managed to do and what we failed to do and where should we go further.”

After several experiments, the team decided to make Thursday a “Meeting day”. “This way, employees could work during from Monday till Wednesday without any breaks for team meetings”, — Campbell says.

Such a work schedule gave some feeling of freedom to the employees. “We could experiment and investigate the product, discuss results and go down to work again”, — the author of the project explains.

However, a new schedule wasn’t convenient for everybody. The director of the company had to to constantly be in touch with an outer world and he had to talk on the phone in such way so as not to disturb other workers.

Moreover, the team needed some time to get in the habit of keeping silent. The employees found a way to make the adaption to a new schedule quicker: conducting quick meetings. It was a usual set of questions: What was done yesterday? What will be done today? Do I need to talk to somebody before the “quiet time”? Can something prevent us from keeping silence during the first half of the day? That’s the way the team could find out and solve basic problems of a new schedule.

During the “quiet time” the team turns off Slack and emails, hides smartphones. “These tools were created in order to distract you. They are incompatible with a deep immersion into a task”.

 

But an adaption to such a schedule can take months. “We’re used to work on many tasks simultaneously. So it may be difficult to devote several hours to one task in the beginning. We needed several months to get used to it. It’s fun to talk to people and to check your phone. Sometimes work should be fun. But sometimes work should be work”, — the designer writes.

A quiet time is similar to a contract. We commit ourselves to working during this time whether we like it or not. Work can move fast or not. Sometimes you may need to ask somebody a question. But soon you’ll understand that questions can wait a little and will even learn to find answers on your own.

The author points out that introducing the “quiet time” has affected company work immensely. Having compared the results of several months, the management came to a conclusion that team efficiency grew by 23%. It allowed the studio to make a 4-day working week. “Our work has become the best place to concentrate.”

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