Do you feel as if it takes a long time before you get going with your tasks and doings at the office in the morning? Just as you take a deep breath and get ready to start working, a colleague stands in the doorway with a cup of hot coffee. You smalltalk about little bit of everything and when the cup is empty the colleague says ”Alright, I should probably get working now”, and moves on. And just as you turn to your desk to make another attempt at reading that email, another colleagues pops his head through the door.
Sure, it is nice to say hello to everyone in the morning, but some people I meet in my work feel that it takes too much time and disrupts them more than they feel it is worth. If the smalltalk takes longer than it should, it could take us a full hour to get the tempo going. And somewhere in the middle of all the good mornings and chit-chat, we need to get up and get ourselves a cup of coffee as well.
Like screeching seagulls
The employees of an organization I met with a while ago described themselves as hovering seagulls who swooped through the office in the mornings and ”spread their sh*t”, meaning their gossiping and chit-chatting. They agreed to establish a seagull-free hour, meaning, an hour in the morning when everyone stays in their rooms and focuses on getting started with work.
Does this sound familiar? If so, decide to ground the seagulls for an hour every day. You could for instance make it an hour in the morning and hence provide yourselves with the opportunity to give the day a good start. Perhaps you all have your own morning routine that helps you get going with the right thing right away.
- If you think a seagull-free hour sounds like a good idea that would help you and your colleagues, decide when you will bring it up as a suggestion and in what context you will do so. Perhaps it is appropriate during the next team-meeting, the next staff-meeting, the next management-group meeting, the next monday-meeting or some other time when you meet with your colleagues as a group.
- Before you introduce the idea to the whole group it might feel better to find out if more people than yourself experience the chatter as a problem as well, or if you are the only one who is bothered by it. Decide who you want to run the idea by one-to-one — perhaps the colleague you are closest to is a good candidate.
- When you present your idea to the group, make sure to do so in a positive manner and focus on how this would provide you all with an opportunity to develop and improve. This is important since it can be a sensitive topic. Perhaps not all your colleagues will approve of your description of them as screeching seagulls who spread their sh*t everywhere (even though this metaphor is intended to be funny, not mean).
You should therefore sell the idea by primarily describing the positive effects of the seagull-free hour. You could for example say ”Would you, like me, like to have an hour at the beginning of the day when we can all really focus on our work, when we can do all the things we need to be focused and undisturbed to do?”, and so on.
- Emphasize that when the seagull-free hour is over, everyone is free to smalltalk and chit-chat again. The idea is not to ban all communication amongst yourselves, but to give everyone an efficient start to their day, which will benefit everyone.
If you agree to have a recurring hour or so every week when everyone works alone and undisturbed, you will automatically have more space and energy for the tasks which require your full attention and focus. You will not have to say no to anyone, ask anyone to leave or set your foot down just because you need to work without interruptions for a while (which we otherwise tend to avoid since we do not want to experience the unpleasantness of such confrontation).
Since you already know that you will be left alone for that specific period of time, you might be able to relax more during the week as you are continuously interrupted by colleagues, phone calls, clients or other disruptions.
What is your way?
What kind of agreement have you made in your team regarding when to be available and when you get to work undisturbed? Share your tip. Leave a comment.