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Entrepreneur Calls Modern Office an 'Interruption Factory'


You don’t have a work day anymore.

When people walk into the office, they trade their work day in for a series of work moments, entrepreneur Jason Fried said in a CNN column titled “Why the office is the worst place to work.

Fried likens work-day distractions to sleep interruptions.

“I don't think anyone would expect someone to get a good night’s sleep if they were interrupted all night long. So why do we expect people to get a good day's work if they are interrupted all day long?” asked Fried, president and co-founder of software company 37signals and co-author of “Rework.”

Workers prefer to do work outside of the office, he said, such as at home, during commutes or somewhere quiet.

[Related: Distracted Workers Cost U.S. Businesses $650 Billion a Year]

So how can employers and their workers remedy a distractive environment?

Fried listed three solutions in his column on CNN:

  • “Instead of casual Fridays, how about no-talk Thursdays? Try it. You won't believe how effective it is. On Thursdays – and you can just try this once a month if you want – no one in the office can talk to each other. You'll be blown away by how much work you'll get done that day. I'm just asking for one day a month to start. Try it, trust me.”
  • “Use passive instead of active communication tools. When someone calls your name, knocks on your door, or stops you in the hallway, you can't avoid them. Even if you try, you're already distracted. So, instead of relying on so much face-to-face communication and collaboration -- what I like to call "active" communication -- try more passive methods of communication. Use e-mail. Use instant messaging. Use collaboration software. Here's why: If people don't want to pay attention, they can turn that tool off. They can hide it. They can put it away. You can't put away a knock on your door or someone calling your name. But you can quit your e-mail app for a few hours. Then, when you're ready, you can open it up -- on your own schedule -- and get back to people.”
  • "Cancel your next meeting. Or just don't attend it. I'm not suggesting you boycott all meetings -- just the next one. Life will go on. And all that stuff you thought you had to talk about with eight other people around a table will get worked out some other way. You'll gain an hour of time you can spend on more important things. And so will those eight other people. Work can happen without that next meeting. Once you recognize that meetings aren't as necessary as you thought, they'll become a last resort instead of a first resort.”

To read Fried’s entire column and find out what are distracting workers from getting work done, click here.

“The modern office has become an interruption factory. You can't get work done at work anymore,” Fried wrote. “Sorry to bother you. Now get back to work.”

Business News Daily Editor

Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.