Recently I watched a TED on why work doesn’t happen in the office – “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 – mangers and meetings) and offers three suggestions to make work work.”

Jason suggests to avoid meetings and to invite as little people as possible when they are really needed. He also promotes to use IM and e-mail instead of direct communication to avoid distractions.

My experience tells that using IM and e-mail doesn’t help at all – you need to configure them very well. Otherwise you’ll miss important information and/or drown in notifications. On my previous workplace most of communication was done via e-mail and you had new mail notification few times per hour. I had to setup about a dosen filters to catch important mails and mute unimportant ones into different folders.

At the moment I only filter and silence VCS update mails as my present communication is done via Skype. And it is was too very annoyning. This TED inspired me to mark 99% of my Skype chats with /alertsoff which will mute all their sound and tray notifications. You’ll be able to see updated chats in ‘Recent’ list and you’ll read them when YOU are ready. Bye bye, annoying tray counter. After one month of using it I’m very very happy with this solution. Also, it’s a must have for vacation.

While e-mail and skype are good – direct communication is very important, especially in agile environment. But one should be really carefull not to annoy others and not to ruin one’s productivty flow. Just as Jason marked – I stay at home to do important things fast.

In my open space environment distractions are real problems for me – someone speaking very loudly, people walking behind my back, people chatting in the kitchen 5m away or even having a standup meeting there. I can runaway into a meeting room, but own table is still the best place for work. This is one of the reasons why I get in the office at twelve – you are in an empty office after 6 and can work happily.

To conclude, be reasonable and kind in open office space 🙂


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