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Interruptions at work and its culture
Old 06-21-2018, 07:52 PM   #1
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Interruptions at work and its culture

I hate the growing culture of interrupting.


... cell phones so you are accessible at all times
... messenger or Skype or other SW tools designed to interrupt you at the whim of the other party.


I work for MegaCorp and Skype has become the rampant communication method ... surpassing email I think.


I find it stunts development. Instead of taking the time to work out a problem, it is much easier and quicker to "ping" Joe who may have done this before. The search for the quick fix ... the free lunch.
The result is poor Joe gets interrupted, drops what he's doing, and helps out the "pinger" fix his problem. The "pinger" has learned little, since he has captured the answer and is now off on another tangent ... likely about to ping someone else.


I am old school. I avoid using Skype if I can. I find it rude to interrupt people with questions and requests for help without first having put in an honest effort to find the answer myself. I think I don't appear as productive as others since my results usually take longer.
Do I care?? I have FU money. LOL


Still, the culture of most Corps promote this and I find it annoying. Crazy schedules where contributors are under pressure to meet deadlines. Meeting schedules and deadlines is rewarded .... quality of content not so much.


I expect that at some point there will be swing-down laptops installed in bathroom stalls so that you can remain connected at all times.
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:30 PM   #2
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I agree, this is such a frustrating aspect of today's w*rkplace. The asker gets an immediate answer, but probably won't take the time to document how to do it for next time. At least with an email they could easily search for the thread if they have a similar question in future. (Skype/IM is searchable but due to the conversational nature/abbreviations/emojis it can be harder to find what you're looking for). Definitely the 24/7 "want it now" w*rk culture is a big reason for me wanting to E-R.
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Old 06-21-2018, 09:58 PM   #3
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Try working for someone who embraces this. My old Director at wireless mega-corp did all of the following...

1. Texted/emailed during meetings. Never paid attention then summarized and made decisions after ignoring EVERYTHING.

2. "Multi-tasked" in I assume the same way during conference calls. Even video calls (you could hear/see him do it.)

3. Insisted on immediate response to emails, text messages, voice mails etc.. regardless of situation (driving, sleeping, family events, vacations, funerals!)

Worst part of it all, he was a narcissistic power hungry ladder climber. Which of course meant he would never listen and was always right (in his mind, rarely in the real world). On top of that the Ash just treated people like dirt.

I lasted about 5 years before I maneuvered my way into a package and started ER, 2 years earlier than planned at 52 but OMY with that fool would have killed someone...
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Old 06-22-2018, 05:39 AM   #4
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What really bugs me is that people who text/IM/Skype whatever at work expect instant replies ... as if they are the only priority in the world and I am doing absolutely nothing at the time.
Awhile back I got really annoyed so I turned off Skype at work. After about a day I was getting concerned emails and ended up getting talked to by my supervisor that I needed to accessible at all times while I was at work.


My current tactic is to leave Skype on but, I just ignore it until it suits my schedule and fancy to respond. Invariably the issues and questions are not urgent and can be dealt with via normal email conversation.
OMG ... it might actually take a few hours to get a response ... the horror !!!!
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:06 AM   #5
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My favorite was if someone emailed me, then IM'd me right after to say "did you get my email?" I would reply "...why don't you text me as well...."

I would set my messenger to away or busy, and avoid even looking at the screen if in an important call or something.

Oh, and the IM that started with just "Hi" are Are you there? from someone I don't actually know... (I ignored those until they actually put in a question, it's a trap).
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:13 AM   #6
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One trick I have seen successful people use to manage interruptions (ie either IM or walk-ups) is to put the person off for an hour or two. ie "I am tied up right now, but how about we talk at 1pm after lunch".

When people would ask for help with a problem via IM, I would always redirect them to email. That way, when I communicate a solution, I have a written record of it that I can recycle 2 months down the road or whenever else someone else has the same or a similar question.

A little push back can go far--especially if you help is a true value-add to the business.

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Old 06-22-2018, 06:22 AM   #7
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I finally just blocked one guy who insisted on IMing every question he had rather than using email.
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Old 06-22-2018, 06:38 AM   #8
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You really do need to train people how to treat you. Many, many years ago, well before emails and IMs and such, I was a bankruptcy lawyer in a big law firm. The younger associate next door would constantly come over to ask me the most basic of questions. After it became evident that he was learning nothing on his own and would not stop, I started asking him a question in reply to each of his -- "Well, what does the Bankruptcy Code say about it"? Eventually, I trained him to try to find the basic answer on his own first, and then come to me for the nuance. Sadly, he never really worked out and was sent on his way shortly thereafter.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:08 AM   #9
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24 minutes. That is the number of minutes it takes the average person to get fully back on task when interrupted. If you think about how many times people are bothered during the w*rk day, that is a whole lot of reduced productivity. My DW has taken to w*rking from home almost exclusively and figured out that she can get 8 hours worth of w*rk done in about 2 hours if she is left alone.

Lucky for me, people usually don't interrupt my daily afternoon naps.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:11 AM   #10
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I finally just blocked one guy who insisted on IMing every question he had rather than using email.
+1

I also learned how to hide my status (available/away/busy for those unfamiliar with Skype for Business).
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:49 AM   #11
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24 minutes. That is the number of minutes it takes the average person to get fully back on task when interrupted. If you think about how many times people are bothered during the w*rk day, that is a whole lot of reduced productivity. My DW has taken to w*rking from home almost exclusively and figured out that she can get 8 hours worth of w*rk done in about 2 hours if she is left alone.

Lucky for me, people usually don't interrupt my daily afternoon naps.
Twenty-four minutes may be a bit on the high side, as it depends on the type of interruption, for sure. But I do agree that being able to work in an uninterrupted manner does make for far better productivity.

Back in my working days, I used to treasure the time after 5 PM when I could do my most intense programming work when it became nice and quiet. Most of my coworkers had left for the day, and the phone stopped ringing. Between 5 and 6:15 PM, the latest time I could leave and get home by 7:30 PM (my awful commute on the trains took 75 minutes, and the trains became scarce toward the end of the rush hour), I often made my best progress working on those programs.

When I was working from home for a few years, that precious interruption-free time I had at the office became the norm, not the exception. My home phone rarely rang (and this was before the time all those annoying automated robocalls began plaguing everyone), so I could focus 100% of my energy and effort on those programs. And best of all, my commute time was ZERO!!
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:51 AM   #12
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24 minutes. That is the number of minutes it takes the average person to get fully back on task when interrupted.
There is a great book on this entitled 'Deep Work' by Cal Newport. A real eye opener.

He shows how IM, cellphones, email, FB, etc. just destroy one's ability to think productively. The same with the latest corporate fad, open offices, where one's ability to concentrate is destroyed by the constant din and interruptions.
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Old 06-22-2018, 07:58 AM   #13
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There is a great book on this entitled 'Deep Work' by Cal Newport. A real eye opener.

He shows how IM, cellphones, email, FB, etc. just destroy one's ability to think productively. The same with the latest corporate fad, open offices, where one's ability to concentrate is destroyed by the constant din and interruptions.
Sorry, but I am not reading anything with "w*rk" in the title.

Here is some info on the "24 minutes" I referenced earlier:

How Distractions At Work Take Up More Time Than You Think
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Old 06-22-2018, 08:07 AM   #14
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Many years ago I attended a technical leadership class. This was early 80s so there wasn't chat but.. One thing I had noticed was many times while seeking help and explaining the question to a peer the light bulb came on and I answered my own question.

This instructor knew the phenomenon and preached it. He claimed one leader actually put a stuffed bear outside his office and suggested his team explain the problem to the bear and if he couldn't answer their questions he'd try. This guy claimed he was more productive and his staff learned to research and problem solve all by themselves.
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Old 06-22-2018, 08:26 AM   #15
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Don't laugh, but I would have posted many more requests for advice to the ER Forum, except that the process of writing out the post sometimes turns on the "Oh, never mind" light.

Or I'll ask myself, "If I asked the forum people, what would they probably tell me? That's right, the answer I already know, but don't care for."

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Many years ago I attended a technical leadership class. This was early 80s so there wasn't chat but.. One thing I had noticed was many times while seeking help and explaining the question to a peer the light bulb came on and I answered my own question.

T
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Old 06-22-2018, 08:52 AM   #16
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About 2 years ago my productivity at MegaCorp was going downhill due to the Agile "project management fad" being foisted upon us. It proliferated a horde of mini-meetings throughout each work day ... daily scrums and their ilk.


I became so frustrated because I could not get things done. It seemed I spent more time delivering status updates on the work I should be doing but can't because I was busy giving status updates on the work I ..........


Anyway, I logged meeting times, both scheduled and informal, and found that > 60% of my time at the office was spent sitting on my rear-end in some form of meeting. I documented it and shared it with many people.



Low-effectivity meetings are another form of interruption. Too many meetings are created with the goal of creating consensus, as opposed to problem solving.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:51 AM   #17
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I find it rude to interrupt people with questions and requests for help without first having put in an honest effort to find the answer myself.
^^THIS!!
Also people that leave voicemail with no message (Call Me!). If you tell me what you want I could call back with the answer and leave a voicemail if you are not available.


Also people that answer their phone during meetings only to say "I can't talk, I'm in a meeting instead of letting the call go to voicemail. I could have left a detailed message and gotten a return call with a response.

So glad we didn't have to use Skype during my time.
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Old 06-22-2018, 09:59 AM   #18
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Skype is a curse on all mankind!



... a boil on the buttock of civilization !!!!
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Old 06-22-2018, 10:03 AM   #19
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I had a team leader one time that was a flaming extrovert. Loud, boisterous, you could here him across the room. I had some serious design work that needed to be done, but I had to have some quality think time to concentrate. Loud mouth would circulate around the area, conducting his circus show throughout the day. I went a couple levels above him and asked if I could basically work a swing shift where I came in much later and then worked in the evening when loud mouth had gone home. He didn't really want me to do that, but he would pay me overtime to do my design work in the evenings. Those were some long days, but also a serious bill paying, investment boosting kind of year. A couple promotions later I was no longer eligible to be paid overtime (but the stock options and bonus made it worthwhile...).



The Agile comment made me smile. I had a piece of software that needed to be updated. Department manager explained the process to me. The software was used on three different product lines, and each product line had it's own software team. Each individual software team would have to agree to work the project, then they would pass it up to their counterpart on the chassis side. Each of them had to agree to do it, and then they would meet and discuss it. If that group agreed, it came to this department manager for an approval. She said that she did not expect that I could get those six people to come to an agreement, and therefore they would not work on the software. I asked if it was OK for me to take a swing at it. She mumbled something, and said go ahead and try.

I went up a level, to the manager who had authority over the 3 chassis folks, he agreed, sent an email to his 3 lieutenants. 45 minutes later the software department manager came over to me and she was upset!! Basically- "How dare you make something happen!!" Good times!
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Old 06-22-2018, 10:04 AM   #20
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Rats, I was just about to do a task and I stopped to read this thread. Now where was I?
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