TED Talk: Why work doesn’t happen at work

Author: Alan Mellor, almellor

Some interesting points in this TED talk by Jason Fried of collaboration company 37 signals.


He raises the point that ‘The Office’ is very important in most companies, in terms of cost, and the management desire to force people to attend one – and yet very often is not the place where productive work is done.

His argument is a little more nuanced than ‘so don’t use one’. Jason recognises that people are individual, and have different needs and tastes with regard to how they give their best. For example, some people are more creative late at night or at weekends. Some work needs to be done without the distraction inherent in ‘Management By Wandering Around’ practices.



In my own experience, I have found that I am very good at doing routine tasks in an office environment, sat close to other staff. But I simply for the life of me cannot script an original presentation.

For that, I have to go in a quiet room – and speak it out loud. I experiment with how several of the lines sound, with how I want to express ideas. I will make sure that key points scan well – so they sound nice. I pace up and down like an idiot. I don’t know why I do that; I know it sure does look off-putting to other staff – and I know that if I don’t do it, my thought processes stop.

I suspect I am not alone. Okay; maybe I *am* alone in my own specific weirdness – my wife seems to think that – but I reckon we all have something similar. Some individualistic ‘not-quite-the-done-thing’ way of getting the best out of us on behalf of our team. Some way that a typical office setting is not flexible enough to accommodate.

It’s at this point I would recommend taking that brave management decision: what do you really want? The best from your individual, talented staff? Or to do the done thing and follow The Rules ™ which clearly state that at all times, all staff are seated at a desk?



Interesting – as always – TED talk. What are your experiences? Any aspect of your work that you do better outside of the confines of the office?




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