Over the last ten years, there has been a significant shift towards the open office environment for businesses. The benefits have been well documented which include greater collaboration, communication and engagement between staff. These are all positive things for individuals and also for business.
The flip side to open office environments has been the impact on staff around productivity and really doing meaningful work that makes a difference. This is particularly relevant for consultants who sell knowledge, expertise and services that requires deep thinking and the ability to focus on working through problems and challenges. This type of work is very hard to do productively when you don’t create the time or space to really focus or you are constantly being interrupted.
There has been a number of recent studies that show the impact of being distracted constantly by others, email, phones going off and what it does to your productivity. What they essentially show is that it takes you over ten minutes each time to get back to the same concentration levels or intensity of focus each and every time your email goes off or the phone rings. This is a significant finding when you take in to account how many times you get distracted in the course of a day let alone how many times over the course of a week or a year!
The answer lies in the ability to work in blocks of time to achieve outcomes that make a difference. I try to spend at least two days a week in silence without distractions where I can get some really meaningful work done such as writing blogs, reviewing reports, developing content or reviewing strategically where we are as a business. I travel a lot and also find being on an airplane is actually a gift around productivity given the lack of distractions and the ability to focus when you are stuck in a seat!
Challenge your thinking around whether you are busy or truly productive. Chances are that you are knocking off tasks that don’t make much a dent in the impact that you could have by really challenging yourself, where you do your work and removing distractions. Remove the need to be accessible to everyone and answering every email and staff member immediately for even one day a week and watch your productivity increase, stress levels reduce and your consulting business improve.
Productivity does not lie in doing more but by creating and working in the right environment for you to do your best work. Your clients, staff and business deserve the best you that is able to create great work that delivers great outcomes.