734: What Science Says About Open Offices (and 6 Things You Can Do About It) w/ Jon Ogden

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode we talk to Jon Ogden, Sr. Manager of Content Marketing at Workfront.

Click here to connect with this guest on LinkedIn.

You can see the blog post this interview is based on here.

A relationship with the right referral partner could be a game changer for any BBB company. So what if you could reverse engineer these relationships at a moment's notice, start a podcast, invite potential referral partners to be guests on your show and grow your referral network faster than ever. Learn more at sweet fish Mediacom. You're listening to the B tob growth show, a podcast dedicated to helping be to be executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. I'm James Carberry and I'm Jonathan Green. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to the baby growth show. We are here today with John Ogden. He is the senior manager of content marketing at Work Front. John, how you doing today? Great, thanks, thanks so amor. No problem at all. Man. I'm excited to have you John. We're going to be talking today really about open, open offices. Specifically. You know what what science says about open offices, and then we're going to be talking about six things that our listeners can actually do about it. And so this is based off of a blog post that you guys wrote looks like a little while ago, but it's got some phenomenal content in it. So I'm excited for you to walk through it with our listeners. But before we do that, can you just explain to folks that maybe aren't familiar with workfront what are you guys doing over there? So primarily we help people manage their work and we that can entail a lot of things, but it's basically a way for people to streamline their work processes, communicate more efficiently and move projects along more effectively. And so that's it in a nutshell. I love it, and so so John. I want to I know we've got a lot of content to cover, so I'd love to just dive right in into the topic of open offices and then what...

...we can do about it. So let's start with what the science says about open offices. Let's start there and then we'll dive into the next part. So one thing to notice that open offices aren't new. It's not some new idea from Silicon Valley and it's been they've been around pretty much since knowledge of work has been around. People gather together and spaces that are large and work together this way and people have known for a hundreds of years that this is not the most effective thing. I mean there's a UK report from one thousand eight hundred and fifty six where it reads for intellectual work, separate rooms are necessary so that a person who works with his head may not be interrupted. So this is, you know, nearly a hundred fifty years ago that they were a little more than a hundred five years ago. They're talking about this and they recognizing, you know, it's are the most effective thing for people together. It all together in a room because of interruptions and the modern academics of staided this really extensively. I die. I dove into the research papers on this, into various journals, and I found way more information that I could even put in this blog post. But there's just a lot of information, a lot of studies that have been done our on this. So one is a review of more than hundred studies found that the layout consistently led the lower rates of concentration and focus. And from there you can get more specific. You can some this. One research from the University of California found that employees and cubicles receive more interruptions then those in private offices. And then one of the more extreme findings. I don't know, I don't know how much this seems really extreme to me, but this research group, the Comb Brand Management Group, they found the office workers at all levels lose three to five hours of productive time every day and they found that sixty eight percent of the...

...under interruptions come from inside the organization. While three to five hours every day, that seems like a lot. I don't know if I if I personally go that far, but that's what they found. Wow, if you are in an open office environment, the Cohen Brown Management Group found that three to five hours of productivity, not not every week but every day, can be lost. Right and I don't when you don't have your own office, that that does seem a little extreme. But Hey, there might be some validity. They're depending on how you know, who they served, maiden kind of the I guess, the scenario by which they did their their study. So so clearly based on, you know, a lot of the different studies. Having your own private space to work seems to be seems to be a more productive way of working. Is that pretty much what you found by diving in all these different studies? That is what I found it a also, one interesting thing is that some people have heard this argument many times about this topically, say, well, we need an open office so that people film are comfortable having conversations and that we are team can really collaborate more effectively. That's one of the ideas that people have for open offices. But one other study, the polytechnic is sued in New York, said they found that people actually have shorter and shallow or conversations in open offices because they're always being overheard. HMM, and so it's it's not even necessarily more effective for team built as you're just kind of in the middle of somebody's meeting wherever you are in an open office. You can't really develop strong relationships if you are constantly worried about being overheard. Interesting, all right. So so, John, if if open offices are clearly less productive, let's talk through these six things that that...

...our listeners can actually do to be more productive. You know, I'm assuming are these six things, John? Are they? You know, if you're in and an open office environment and you don't necessarily have the power to change that, is this how to kind of overcome the lack of productivity that comes in an open office formatter. Like, give us a little bit of context around that. Yeah, that's exactly right. So if your second and open office, or even office with cubicles, you can still get some of these same downsides. And so question is like, well, what do you do? And that's what these six suggestions are. Got It? So the first suggestion is to deliberately socialize. Can you talk to us about this one? Yeah, so I think that one possible downside of being in a private office, or one might think this is a downside, is that you could just get stuck called day, and so part of the reason that it's so important to socialize is so that you can have long periods of focus. So if you can be more deliberate about both things, then you will be a more productive worker. And really socializing is critical because it does strongly correlate with good emotional health, and there are many studies about this that show that when people are lonely, they're less productive, they're not as happy, and so it might seem counterintuitive to say that if you're an open office and you should deliberately socialize, but I think it really is an important step. is to say you know, I'm going to reach out to my coworkers for certain times during the day so that at other times I can be a hundred percent focused. Got It so deliberately socializing is the first thing we can do to combat the lack of productivity. The second one that you talked about in this post, John, is to practice time blocking. This is actually something one of our former but to be growth guests talked about, like actually putting things into your...

...calendar instead of having a to do list. Is Time blocking in the way that you're talking about it similar to that framework of instead of having to do list, actually block like putting it inside of your your eyecal or whatever calendar tool you use. Is that where you're going with this one? That's right, and I'll just say that workfront is we're producing a product that will allow that will put that into your calendar so that you can schedule meetings and then, right alongside those meetings, you can schedule the exact tasks that you should be working on according to the priority that's in the work management system. And so the purpose here is that. Well, you can get overwhelmed with meetings, right if that's what your your whole day is scheduled around is meetings, and you might find, like you know, none of those meetings are really my primary goal, my one goal that I should be focused on. None of them are. And so if you don't deliberately carve out time to focus on what is your primary goal, chances are it might not happen. And so that's what time blocking is. Is like schedule work day. But I know that the one thing that I struggle with after, after having that interview, I guess it was a couple years ago now, I started putting things in my calendar. The the problem that I run into is that when I know that I'm the only one, like it's a I've got a schedule of an hour and a half on my calendar to work on this thing, but I know that there's not somebody else in the meeting that's going to be joining, it's just me, it just becomes really easy to push that aside. But even in that like, even even moving it to the next day or moving it into another slot on my calendar, it's still going to get downe the eventually. Do you do you have any thoughts, John, around like how we can, aside from just being more disciplined, which I could probably use in a lot of areas of my life to keep from bumping those those...

...things like just further and further down your calendar. One advantage time blocking into scheduling it out early is that people can't schedule meetings over the time. As long as you're as long as you say like no, I'm busy, they just look at your calendar. You like they see like, Oh, pre me three to four. You're you're busy with something, so I can't schedule the meeting then. So maybe maybe that's there's an element that's in considerate to your co workers when you do that. But if you really are not doing your primary gold and like you're not, you're said, just sithing, but you're not being as productive as you need to be, and so, like, by planning ahead early at least and and putting that in your calendar at least, it can prevent meetings from overrunning everything else. Yeah, so, yeah, I don't I don't know if I have the solution for sitting down and doing it once the time hits. If you do ever figure that out, John, I think spelling book on your hands. This this third one that we're going to talk about. John implemental work management system. This is obviously where where you guys, where you guys come in talk to us about this one. I've been really impressed with how much work front is helped me focus, because I'm like a chat app where you are just kind of the conversations are fractured, they're not in context, and a work management system helps you see what your most important task is and then put that in order so that you can focus on that. And then once you say okay, I'm on this task right now, then you can kind of close out everything else, get that one off the off the list and move systematically through to the next one. And it adds a level of transparency where everybody else can see like, oh, this is what this other my coworkers working on, so I shouldn't interrupt them with this thing that's like eighteen on their list, you know, or if they do it's it's put in its proper place, eighteen rather than first. It's not doesn't it's not the tearing of the urgent gotta...

...and so with Work Front, and it's a product that I that I haven't used yet, as opposed to just being able to kind of fire up Google calendar and be able to look at your team's calendar to see see what's there. I'd love to hear a little bit like more of the functionality that comes inside of workfront that somebody could see benefit from instead of just like pulling up Google calendar and looking there. Can you, can you elaborate on a bit more of the functionality that the tool offers? Yeah, so I can speak for myself. It's content marketing, like they are templates that we use that can that like schedule out, let's say, a blog post in the schedule, like concept, first draft, review, creative images, copy, edit, etc. And they you can just copy that template and do it for the month and then you have your your calendar, I'll scheduled out and each of those tasks and assignments can also be shared with co workers so that everybody can everybody is insight into what everybody else is working on and then can collaborate more effectively to get the work done. Love it awesome. An so so John. This fourth one that we're going to talk about to overcome kind of the problem of lack of productivity is to use sound masking. Talk to us about this one. So it's basically white noise or peat noise. And if you're in an open opposit environment you have white nose and peat noise, you will hear other people talking, but you won't be able to hear as well what they're saying. And often it's the content of what people are saying. You know, you hear co workers start telling the story of something that happened in last night, your attention just immediately pulled away to listening to that story. So with white noise or pete noise in the background you're more able to...

...better up the focus for a long periods of time, and so it's almost like ambience, ambience sound, background noise that can kind of cut through so you can have clarity. Got It okay. So is there are there any particular APPs or anything that you found that are that are useful for this? Yeah, so there is one ambient sound. It's it's called a soft murmurcom okay, has birdsong, fire, fireplace, wind, ocean. I mean you can you can set all to your preferences and it can help cut out that back the background chatter. Got It all right, John. This this fifth one. You say in here get inventive and ask for change. Talk to us about this one? Yeah, so this one might be hard, but, for instance, I had a friend who is an executive at a local company who told me that for him, he would leave the office and drive to a library that was about five blocks away and work there for three hours. So that's a bit of inventiveness where you say, you know, I'm not I'm still going to be I'm going to be more productive than I would be at work, but I'm going to carve up this time to do something different than the typical office worker. Another practice is pushing for remote work occasionally to say, you know, I really need to focus and I can actually focus more effectively at home. So there are ways to kind of push the envelope a bit and do something different than the typical mind of five, sitting your chair type approach. Totally. I'm trying to talk my wife into letting me buy a tesla for this reason because of that self driving functionality and that with with the use case of but up. But I can be so much more productive if I don't have to actually drive a car. I can just sit back and get all this work done. So far it is not been an effective strategy, but I'm going to keep working on it. That this the last one that we are going to talk about, John, is...

...embrace flex work. Talk to us about this one. So this is a little bit the same in terms of embracing the ability to do remote work, and I think that the that the another element here is that you have to realize that different types of work required different levels of focus. So for most knowledge workers it almost certainly means that you have to focus for long periods of time, but there might be certain tasks that you have to do where an open office is totally fine. I mean you just have routine tasks, you could say, you know, I could crunch through three hours of these routine tasks, checking emails, etc. Would that with the interruptions, but being aware that when time comes to focus, you really do have to change your approach. And so the idea of flex work is that you can say, depending on the task I'm my open office might work or private ups might be better. Awesome, John, this has been fantastic. If there's somebody listening to this, they want to stay connected with you, I want to learn more about work front. What's the best way for them to go about doing? Both of us things you can find man linkedin John Ogden and work frontcom. We just completely revamped our website. It's looking great, it runs fast, it's there's a lot of great information there, so please check it out. Yeah, love it awesome. John Will, thank you so much for your time today. This has been fantastic and I'm excited to see this thing go alive. Thank you. There are lots of ways to build a community and we've chosen to build the BEDD growth community through this podcast. But because of the way podcasts work, it's really hard to engage with our listeners, and without engagement it's tough to build a great community. So here's what we've decided to do. We're organizing small dinners across the country with our listeners and guests. No sales pitches, no agenda, just great conversations with likeminded people.

Will Talk Business, will talk family, will talk goals and dreams, will build friendships. So if you'd like to be a part of a BEDB growth dinner in a sitting near you, go to be to be growth dinnerscom. That's be toob growth dinnerscom. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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