Is the office really the best place to get work done? Do you know that most work in the office does not occur due to a slew of problems? Contrary to what detractors of telecommuting might suggest, disruptors such as television or social media are not the real culprit behind poor work productivity. Check out these four reasons why work doesn’t happen in the office, according to Jason Fried, co-founder and CEO of Basecamp and author of REWORK, and watch his TED Talk “Why Work Doesn’t Happen At Work” below.

1. People tend to work better in different places and times

“Where do you go when you really need to get something done?” Jason has asked this question to many people over the last ten years. Businesses may expect people to respond with “the office,” but Jason expands upon the fact that few people, if any, will ever answer as businesses expect. Instead, they’ll say things like “the porch,” “the kitchen,” “the train,” “the coffee shop”, “the library”, or even, “It doesn’t really matter where I am as long as it’s really early in the morning or really late at night, or on the weekends.”

Just because you work in a different location, or at a different time of day, does not mean you are not getting work done. In fact, people tend to work better with long intervals of uninterrupted, focused time, which can be hard to find in an office.

2. Multiple distractions divide your day and time

You arrive at work, sit at your desk, and you are given six to eight hours to dedicate to work. Yet, distractions that you cannot prevent break up your day into small chunks of time and impede your ability to complete your work. Jason cites unwanted disruptions such as another employee asking you a question, other pending tasks that need completion, a manager requesting your full attention, or meetings you are required to attend – not to mention breaks and lunch. Before you know it, your workday is over.

Most people leave their workplace feeling as if they did nothing at all. Multiple distractions cause people to lose the flow of meaningful work. According to Jason, the managers and meetings (M&Ms) appear to be the worst at causing distractions.

3. The problem with managers and meetings

Have you ever been dragged from your workspace at the office to attend a meeting? Maybe you’ve been pulled away from your focus by your manager, who does nothing but inquire if you are doing your job–not exactly a help. These interruptions get in the way of productivity. Meetings and managers take time away from an employee’s ability to focus and cause them to lose time out of their eight-hour workday. In addition, with the distraction of meetings, the employee may find it difficult to return to their previous thoughts when they return to their project.

4. Work is like sleep phases

Jason also notes that work is akin to the five sleep phases. You lie down to get to sleep, but your body must enter the different phases to reach the final deep phase of sleep. When a noise or someone bumping the bed disturbs your sleep, you have to start the phases from the beginning again. Your work pattern is similar. If you are working on a project and are consistently interrupted, you have to start all over to return to the point where you were truly focusing on your work.

Employers and managers may be concerned that employees do not complete work at home because of distractions such as television or social media. However, these distractions are known as voluntary distractions, which mean the employee can choose to engage in these distractions when it is best for them. But, when you’re in the workplace where your boss or manager can easily, and often, interrupt you, those are involuntary distractions. These involuntary distractions disrupt your work productivity much more than voluntary work distractions.

Readers, when and where do you find you get the most work done? If you need freedom and flexibility to work best, please join 1 Million for Work Flexibility!

photo credit: