Jason Fried’s TED Talk about remote work

When they're asked "where you want to work?" just few answer "in the office". Fried analizes the possible reasons for this aversion and finds a substantial, enormous one: distractions.

There are no doubts that I’m a fan of remote work: more than 5 years ago I started building a job that lets me working from home or from the most various places, being them a co-working space, the couch of a cafè or the seats of a train or an airplane. Not only: during last months I even gave some lessons in a course part of a european project about this topic, because I like to think I can help other people – being them already in a office situation they want to leave ot having to start yet – doing “the big step” and finally get free from long commuting to work, iper control and pointlessly rigid times.

Sure, for me now it is easy to talk about this: thanks to connections and technologies more and more powerful, day after day the awareness of this useless obligation to the office is growing. But this was yet a pretty innovative idea in 2010, when Jason Fried, Basecamp founder, held this TED Talk you can find below:

I talked about him some time ago and if you read this blog you know his name for sure: he is the co-author of the book I consider the bible of remote work (for both workers and managers), “Remote – Office Not Required“.

And, like in his book, that I suggest to everyone who wants to change his work modalities since it’s full of ideas and tips on the topic, in this speech as well he talks about some noxious habits that seems we can’t, for fear or laziness, let go.

One of this makes you truly think: companies buy expensive offices and they furnish them in the best way, but often the workers don’t like to go in them. When they’re asked “where you want to work?” just few answer “in the office”. Fried analizes the possible reasons for this aversion and finds a substantial, enormous one: distractions.

If you ever worked from an office you know pretty good what we are talking about: you are concentrated, in the middle of a challenging work and…someone is coming to your desk to ask something or calls you from the other room. Was it necessary to do so, right in that moment? Most of the times the answer is no. Meanwhile, anyway, your concentration was broken and, as when you sleep and someone wakes you up, you have to restart the process from the beginning, losing even more time. As Fried says: if you don’t call “a good night sleep” the sleep continously interrupted, how can you do so talking about work?

This is why people end not going to the offices to work, but to have, as Fried calls them, “work moments”: pauses of work between an interruption and another.

And at the end of the day? Often it isn’t possible to say you had a true day of significant work, but just a series of tasks done in the miriad of broke up “work moments”.

You cannot ask somebody to be creative in 15 minutes and really think about a problem. You might have a quick idea, but to be in deep thought about a problem and really consider a problem carefully, you need long stretches of uninterrupted time.

Basecamp co-founder at the end of his speech offers some advice on how to make office spaces more work-friendly starting from just some little change. After all, isn’t it like this that revolutions start? 😉

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