Just like anything, there are pros and cons to open work environments. On the positive side, it allows free-flowing interaction between you and your coworkers. On the negative side, it can be very hard to focus and interruptions are common. The latter part is what I am struggling with now but I do enjoy and want to keep the former. I wish there was an easier, simpler way to have both. We have all read the stats about how long it takes someone to re-focus once they’ve been interrupted and if this is happening several times per day, a lot of productivity is lost. Getting nice headphones certainly helps, “looking busy” when someone walk by is a bit awkward and ignoring a coworker is not the very best idea. I have certainly done all three and wish there was a better way.
I have always thought that if each person had a little light on their desk that lit up red or green that this might help. Put it on red when you’re in the middle of something that requires extreme focus and leave it on green the rest of the time. I believe if there were parameters and guidelines in place, this solution could work. The hard part is, most people would always have their light on red no matter what, since they are “always busy” and others would ignore the red light and interrupt you anyways.
Remote workers definitely don’t have the problem of being interrupted at inopportune times but they also don’t have the benefit of being part of a social work environment. It doesn’t seem like there is a perfect solution, but there has to be something better. Dedicated workspaces that people could check out for an hour to get something done? A company rule that no internal meetings were held from 830-1030am so people could focus that time to get their top task done?
Any ideas that you have? Share some of your ideas/experiences.