Recently I’ve heard people at my workplace talking a lot about disliking the OpenSpace floor plans, and how they are distracting people from work, and how the productivity is going down, and why somebody won’t measure it.
To be honest – I disagree. I love OpenSpace; at least at my company people rarely talk loud in the open areas, and I do not have any problem concentrating on what I am doing while people are walking around. I love the convenience of visibility – I can always find a person I need, even if somebody is at the meeting, I can see through the glass door; I can always walk to anybody, and have an impromptu conversation. OpenSpace allows to solve problems as they appear, and really reduces the time spent on the not-so-productive meetings.
But there is another thing, which I think is a real time-killer: the online work-related chats. Here is why.
We are always being told, that we are expected to watch all the chat rooms where our assistance or opinion may be needed. For many people it means watching up to ten chat rooms (if not more!). You know – I’ve honestly tried , and I can tell you: if you closely follow the conversations in five different chat rooms, you literally can’t do anything else! If I want to allocate a couple of hours to debug some code, I need to stop following the chat rooms completely.
Yes, you can set up notifications from the chat rooms. But one – it’s not always you, who’s being addressed directly; and until you really read the request, you won’t know whether you are a right person to respond. Two – that implies, you should read your e-mails every “small” number of minutes.
I know that people often expect you to react on emails more or less immediately. So here we are – if you come back to check you emails every 15 min, how much of actual work will you have done? Another thing surprises me: I’ve heard from some people, that I should not just walk by other co-workers and ask the question, instead I should e-mail my question and/or hipChat it, and wait for 15 min for a person to respond. I’ve being told, that walk-ins are disruptive. My question is: why a necessity to check you email notifications every 15 min is less disrupting than replying to a question in person – and only at the time when somebody actually does something, not all the time.
… This being said, working in almost empty office between Christmas and New Year can be extremely productive:)