Blogs & Thoughts

The Collaboration v Concentration Conundrum

Following the initial flurry of overcommunication at the beginning of the great working from home experiment, where days would disappear on Teams calls, I quickly learned to manage this, much the same we all learned over the years to use voicemail to manage calls (ie don’t answer it, if it’s important they’ll call back).

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  • Author Phil Muir
  • Date 02 December 2020
  • Read Time 2 minutes
Co-workers collaborating on a project

I was on my own, it was quiet and I was able to concentrate. I don’t know about anyone else but I became used to this being the default position, no more so than when I made a recent visit to our Glasgow office and found myself looking incredulously at a colleague (sitting in excess of 2m away from me of course) making a phone call in the open plan office and disturbing my peace-really? As someone that has forever promoted the design of the office to support teamwork it was a revelation to me that I wanted to retreat into a room and close the door behind me, I’d become accustomed to controlling interactions with others to suit my own needs.

I do miss the face to face interaction with the team-so what will the future of work be? I’m looking forward to having more choice around home and office working and most people I speak to believe the future will be a blend of the two (and possibly a third category of in-between spaces) but what should become of the office?

We should build spaces around collaboration and give people the freedom to use and adapt these to their needs.

We need to create spaces for concentration and protect them from each other.

  • People should be able to team up and make noise
  • People should be able to get their head down on their next masterpiece-current office designs often overlook the need for concentration in the drive towards collaboration.
  • Perhaps most importantly we all need to better understand how and when we should use these spaces and be aware of others.

Add into this dream an above average coffee machine and I’m already thinking I want to go there, wherever there is. Just don’t make any loud phone calls in my nice quiet place, please.