The biggest problem in any office environment around the world today is the state of distractions. Phones ringing, emails pinging, people talking and just general busyness racing from meeting to meeting! We have never been busier as workers. Americans now work for 8.5 hours more each week than their counterparts did in the 1970’s. From a study carried out by Good Technology, 80% of staff continue to work when they have left the office, 69% cannot go to bed without checking their emails and 38% of workers check their emails whilst having dinner. Office workers spend more than a quarter of their time writing and responding to emails each day. This cannot continue!!
However, the real question is, are we more efficient in our work today and more importantly, are our current working ways and the open-plan office environment actually stifling creativity in the workplace rather than encouraging it? After all, who can be creative if they keep on getting interrupted!
If you look back at some of the great modern leaders of companies, you’ll see they have learnt to ‘do less’ sometimes. Jack Welch (GE) used to allocate one hour each day to what he termed ‘looking out of the window time’ and Bill Gates (Microsoft) would remove himself from everyday distractions each year by staying in isolated locations around the country for what he termed ‘think weeks’.
So the next time you receive an email from a colleague who sits in the same office or has been generated without much thought, stand up and let that person know (verbally). Likewise, let’s cut back on unnecessary meetings for meetings sake. Instead of adding to the endless ‘to do list’, do what Jim Collins talks about in his ‘Good to Great’ book and keep a ‘stop doing list’ (a meeting you can miss or a dinner you can cancel).
Who knows, in the future we might just be a bit more productive and think more creatively in the process.