Jason Fried’s 2010 Ted talk, “Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work” has received over 4 million views. He introduces his talk with a conundrum we all face – why can’t any of us seem to get work done at work?
People don’t go to the office when they want to seriously focus and get a passion project done. “Where do you go when you really need to get something done?” he asks. Answers range from places like the porch, the deck, the kitchen. No one actually wants to go to the office.
Fried speaks of a work day that is defined by moments. “Work moments,” he calls them. This is anything that happens at the office. It’s how we define our day. Hanging out with a friend at the water cooler. Chatting with managers at the Keurig. Trying to get the fax machine to work. Organizing a conference call. It’s not a day, but a fragmentation of incomplete tasks.
But what people really crave is a long stretch of uninterrupted time to get anything done.
How can we make this happen in frenzied, fast-paced office environments?
Fried has a few suggestions. For example, offices can try “No Talk” days, like “No Talk Thursdays.” His most radical idea is the end of the meeting as we know it. This is a distracting feature of the day, and managers should be careful of scheduling meetings in the middle of the day when employees are trying to finish projects. He also suggestions moving from active collaboration to passive communication.
All these things would create much quieter offices. I wonder if it would make more productive offices, or if people would still crave the distracting features of the day.
Jason Fried is the co-founder and president of 37signals, a Chicago-based company that builds powerful collaboration tools such as Basecamp. His lectures have been called “revolutionary” by Alex Wilhelm of TheNextWeb.com.