Friday, August 12, 2011

Open Office and Your Brain...

When I work at my company's offices, I work in an “open office” environment.  This is an area (a room with just three sides) about 30' by 15', with nine people working in it on tables.  Each of us has a fairly small area, perhaps 30" wide by 24" deep.  It works well for some things, especially when multiple people are collaborating on the same thing.  I find it nearly impossible to concentrate on programming while there, however – there are innumerable interruptions and distractions that keep me from the kind of deep, sustained focus in which I am most productive. 

Here's someone else with similar observations.

I observe, though, that some people seem to be almost immune to problems I encounter.  This immunity is definitely more prevalent amongst younger people.  I don't know whether it's actually age-related, cultural, or training.  My cure is to work from home as much as possible – there I actually stand a chance of sustained focus for hours at a stretch.  I balance this with days at the office, where I can be available to teach and help others (and I can get help from others).  If the balance was to be determined purely by my own personal productivity, I'd probably work from home 80% to 90% of the time.  But that is not the case; some of the value I supply to my employer depends on my being available for other people, and it's a challenge to figure out where the right balance is when including that factor...

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