One reason that “work from home” is so popular amoung knowledge workers is the idea of uninterrupted work time, and quiet working conditions.
It’s so important, that even 2 decades before the pandemic, it made Joel Spolsky’s Joel Test:
8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
There are extensively documented productivity gains provided by giving knowledge workers space, quiet, and privacy.
As many of us begin to move back in offices, how can you ensure that you and your team can maintain this benefit, even if not in a physically isolated pace? A few tips:
- Don’t be part of the problem: Don’t interrupt your colleagues unless absolutely necessary. Prefer async forms of communication when possible (send an email instead of a tap on the shoulder).
- Adapt the Law of 2 Feet, when possible: Stand up and walk to a quieter place (if you’re given a laptop in the office).
- Work from home a few days a week, if possible.
- Use sound-absorbing furniture or wall hangings to dampen noise.
- Use a Do not distrub flag or other visual indicator to put on your desk as a signal to your colleagues that you’re busy. If you’re the manager, buy enough of these for your whole team.