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解放员工有利于提高工作效率

Georgia Collins 2012年03月09日

先别急着要在办公室重新竖起隔板来。改变工作方式,比如减少会议的数量、缩短会议的时间、给员工更多的灵活性、让他们可以自由选择工作的地点,这些都可以减少干扰,帮助人们集中注意力完成工作,提高效率。

    现如今,似乎每个人都在谈论“协作”,尤其是将“协作”作为一项业务手段。不可否认,两者紧密相连,但最近的讨论忽视了等式另一端的“专注”。

    首先要声明一点,我推崇协作。虽然近期有不少文章批评头脑风暴,我仍是协作论的支持者。但认为“协作是解决一切问题的灵药”,这种观点在我看来同样失之片面。正如上个世纪大部分时候我们都在喋喋不休地讲个人需求,而不是团队需求,如今我们的行为有矫枉过正的风险。我们绝不能忘记“专注”对于做(好)工作的重要性。

    但也别急着马上就要动手在办公室里竖起隔板来,不妨先想一想,转变行为方式或许比竖隔板更有助于促进专注。

    大多数人早就知道办公室格子间对于专注工作并没有帮助。隔板虽然挡住了视线,让你不能看到临近的同事,有一种私密的错觉,但任何人在格子间里坐上超过一个小时就知道,这些隔板几乎挡不住任何声响。

    独立办公室也好不了多少。即便有自己的私人办公室,也很可能无法在里面专注工作。为什么?因为如果你在那儿,所有人都知道到那儿去找你。去年,我们调查了10,000多名员工,“突然拜访”(pop-ins)在工作场所18项最常见的浪费时间因素中列在第一位。I

    因此,毫不奇怪,当我们在采访中和在研讨会上问到人们“他们最出色的工作是在哪里完成的?”,我们常常听到的答案是家里、小餐厅、街对面的咖啡馆,基本上都是别人没法找到他们的地方。从我们进行的数千份空间利用研究中,我们也发现,个人工作空间的平均使用时间仅占核心工作日的35%。人们不会在自己的座位上呆很长的时间。

    这绝不是说他们没在工作。事实上,大多数人工作都很努力,但他们不是在自己的座位上工作,而是在会议室、在客户那里、在出差,或在其他的地点很专注地工作。

工作中没时间思考

    “最需要集中注意力的工作在哪里完成”——对于我们的这个问题,最常见的回答是“家里”。不仅仅是因为家里是可以避免分心的地方,而且也因为我们白天的工作排得满满当当,大多数人能专注做事的时间只有每天的清晨、深夜或周末。

    最近,我遇到的一位软件工程师将此归咎于“管理者带来的问题”。由于工作性质关系,管理者几乎总是在开会,工作日程排得如此之满,内部会议只能见缝插针。不管员工是不是正在那两个小时里心无旁骛地专注工作,管理者要开的会还得开,因为他只有这个时间有空。谁叫他是管理者呢。

    作为一名管理者,我认为这也是“管理者遇到的问题”。我总是在日程安排方面遇到麻烦——日程已经排满,余下的都是些15分钟、30分钟这样一小段一小段的时间,只够我回复邮件。即便是那些没有被会议填满的日子,我的日程看来也已满满当当,根本不容我坐下来,专心致志地处理一些颇费思量的事情。

 

    It seems everyone is talking about collaboration these days, and in particular, collaboration as a business tool. There is no denying that the two are connected, but the recent debates have sidelined the other equally critical side of the equation -- concentration.

    For the record, I'm a big fan of collaboration. And despite the relatively recent spate of articles knocking brainstorming, I'm a fan of that as well. But the idea that collaboration is some sort of business cure-all does feel one-sided to me. Just as we spent the better part of the last century harping on the needs of individuals rather the needs of teams, we now run the risk of letting the pendulum swing too far the other way. We must not forget the important role concentration plays in getting (good) work done.

    But before you run out and reconstruct the walls of your office's cubicles, consider that a shift in behavior might do more to support concentration than the construction of walls ever will.

    That cubes aren't good for concentration most people already know. Panels give the illusion of privacy because you can't see your neighbor, but anyone who has sat in one for more than an hour can tell you that the fabric between you does little to protect you from hearing your neighbor.

    Offices aren't much better. Even if you have a private office, chances are that you don't get that much focused work done in it. Why? Because when you're there, everyone knows where to find you. Of the 10,000+ workers we surveyed last year, "pop-ins" ranked first (of 18) in a list of the most common workplace time-wasters.

    It's no surprise that when we ask people in interviews and workshops where they get their best work done, we usually hear at home, in the café, at a coffee shop across the street, essentially any place where other people can't find them. We learned from the thousands of space utilization studies we've done that individual workspace is occupied an average of 35% of the core working day. People just don't spend a ton of time at their desks.

    Now, that doesn't mean they're not working. Indeed, most of them are working very hard, but instead of sitting at their desks, they are in conference rooms, at customer sites, travelling, or…wait for it…concentrating someplace else.

No time to think at work

    "Home" is a frequent answer to our question about where people get their most focused work done not just because it can be a place free from distractions but also because, with our days so scheduled, the only time most people have to concentrate is early in the morning, late at night, or over the weekend.

    I met a software engineer recently who referred to this as "the problem with managers." By the very nature of their roles, managers are almost constantly in meetings. As a result, their schedules are packed so tightly that when it comes to scheduling internal meetings, people are slotted into whatever time is available. No matter if it is right in the middle of a two-hour slot designated for concentrated work, that is the only free time the manager has. And he is the manager.

    As a manager, I think this could just as easily be called "the problem for managers." I am constantly challenged by my calendar -- it fills up and I'm left with 15 and 30 minute slots of time that are only good for returning emails. Even on days that are not filled with meetings, the ones I do have seem to be scheduled just far enough apart to make sitting down and really focusing on something extremely difficult.

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