December 20, 2010

No managers, no meetings: Why working from home is so much more productive

Posted in Behaviour at 23:09 by graham

Jason Fried at a TEDx event, 17minute video.

The key concepts:

Ask people where they go to “get work done”, where they are at their most productive: They almost never say ‘the office’. Or if they do, it’s before or after hours.

Work is like sleep, it proceeds in cycles. You have to go through the light-sleep / light-work cycles to get to the meaty stuff. Every time you get woken up / interrupted, you start from scratch.

There are two types of interruptions: The ones you control (getting a coffee) and the ones you don’t (manager walks to your desk). The first type fits naturally with your work cycles, e.g. you look up from some absorbing work, it’s 3pm, you haven’t had lunch yet. The second type is out of your control, like a rock thrown at your window whilst you sleep. It’s destroys creative work.

The two main reasons work doesn’t get done “in the office” are: Managers, and Meetings. Managers are the source of most of the destructive interruptions. Meetings are nearly always a complete waste of time.


I have been working from home for three years now, and it has always puzzled me why I got so much more done.

In my office I had a powerful computer, dual screens, an Aeron chair, a system admin team, an HR team, and great colleagues to bounce ideas off.

At home, at first, I had a $20 chair from the charity store, my laptop propped on two phone books, and a very curious toddler. Yet I easily did a weeks worth of office work every two days.

Jason Fried, in the video above, finally provides some answers.

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