MacLean’s – Sshh: Men at Work

MacLean’s published an article last week on Intel’s quiet time pilot.  I like this idea a lot better than Email Free Fridays:

‘Quiet Time, which began in September, happens each Tuesday at two of Intel’s U.S. sites (they won’t reveal exactly where). From 8 a.m. to noon, the 300 engineers and managers in the test group set email and instant messaging to off-line mode, forward all calls to voice mail, and hang “do not disturb” signs at their cubicle entrances. They’re then free to do “thinking work,” says Intel IT principal engineer Nathan Zeldes, the man behind the project. “These guys are designing products, so I would hope they’d devote it to that,” he says. “Although I’m sure some of them are tempted to clean out their inboxes.”‘

This is basically institutionalizing the Succeed step of the IMS process; forcing employees to block out times of the day to focus on project based work rather than responding to constant interruption.  And it’s clear from the article that this type of break from the outside world is required to get real work done:

‘Today’s knowledge workers can expect just three minutes of uninterrupted work on any given task, suggests research from Gloria Mark and Victor M. Gonzalez at the University of California, Irvine. “It’s bad for innovation,” Mark says. “To be able to think very deeply, you do need quiet time.”‘

Three minutes?  I suspect this is why all my most creative ideas come when I’m walking to work rather than when I’m sitting at my desk.

Thanks to customer Philip who forwarded along this article!  Most appreciated…