Are co-workers the reason you don’t get any work done?

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workplace technologyTwo excellent blogs (Lifehacker and Boing Boing) I often read posted this video clip of Jason Fried, the co-founder of 37signals. On the surface it’s a pretty lame starting point for a blog post, I admit–a guy talks into a camera for six minutes.

However, the video’s worth watching because Fried suggests that IM, e-mail and other virtual communication benefit workers more than traditional face-to-face conversations. You’ve undoubtedly heard people — employees, boss and workplace experts — criticize today’s technology-driven workplace for a lack of personal interaction. The problem, these critics explain, is that no one walks the ten feet to knock on someone’s office door or even rolls their chair across the aisle to chat with their cube neighbor. Not only are we supposedly lazy, but we don’t know how to interact with people anymore. We’re used to pressing buttons and typing texts, not making eye contact and holding conversations.

Fair points, and they express a viewpoint that many, many people agree with. However, Fried offers a counterpoint. In his opinion, relying on technology allows people to respond to messages when it is convenient for them. For example, if your colleague has a question but it’s not urgent, rather than interrupt you, she can send an e-mail that you can reply to at your convenience. No interrupting your current task or breaking your concentration. Seems logical to me.

So watch Fried’s clip and tell us whether or not you agree with him. Have you worked in environments where technology was the preferred and more effective form of communication? Did you work for a company where in-person conversation was the only acceptable way to get things done? Let us know.

 

20 Comments
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  2. I’ve worked in a place recently where they had a great little guide on when or when not to use email and to copy people in. They needed to do it because everybody did just rely on email when they should have had a face to face conversation. The message was basically use email for information, follow ups and action responses, then use meetings for exchanging ideas and building relationships. But to schedule these meetings. Don’t know if it worked but it did get me thinking. Everyone had a mini bullet point guide on their computer. I’m not normally a fan of prescriptiveness, but it did challenge me every time I went to send an email.

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    • Reply to authparts. This attitude is why USA is behind. Other countries in productivity,etc etc. step aside so someone else can contribute and not just attend a job for a check. Then may I suggest you start a business hire a few lazies like yourself and let’s see how great of a manager you are. let’s see how smart y ou are then, and furthermore since your comments were in April maybe you are already unemployed, since in this economy I hope your job has been eliminated since you do not want to be there anyway.

    • Reply to Auto parts mall This attitude is why USA is behind. Other countries in productivity,etc etc. step aside so someone else can contribute and not just attend a job for a check. Then may I suggest you start a business hire a few lazies like yourself and let’s see how great of a manager you are. let’s see how smart y ou are then, and furthermore since your comments were in April maybe you are already unemployed, since in this economy I hope your job has been eliminated since you do not want to be there anyway.

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  17. I can relate to the point of when someone interrupts your work they don’t think of my interruptions are more important than what you are working on. The problem with not giving in to those interruptions, you look like you don’t care about those concerns. Unfortunately for me, I am flattered that when those coworkers have a question or a concern they come to me and I will address their issues and my work gets put back on the back burner. In the end I am their longer and usually my work gets done after hours.

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