It started, like most good things, organically.
In the beginning just a handful of people came to work early. And it was good.
Slowly, as needs changed, people started arriving at all sorts of times. As flexibility continued to morph with child care hours, single-car families, public transit schedules and traffic patterns people adopted the timing that worked for them. Ultimately people arrived anywhere between 6:30 and 9:30 yet normal office protocols continued.
E.g., people talking over cube walls, long phone conversations on speaker, hallway chats, pinging smartphone reminders, etc. 7am felt like 10am.
But then it shifted on one small observation.
Ironically enough someone noted that when a certain party wasn’t yet in the office had a much quieter vibe, a much more focused hum. And being smart adults they soon realized the could get a lot done if they kept to themselves. And Power Hour was born. Naturally.
Informally the office mates agreed that all time before 8am was Power Hour. No speaker phone conversations, no visiting with neighbors about the weekend’s doings, and no – absolutely no – talking over cube walls. In time, the office became more like a library than a library. And the participants noticed.
- They noticed a surge in productivity before 8
- They noticed fewer of them staying late every day
- They noticed taking a real lunch more often since they didn’t have to “work through” to catch up
- They noticed more satisfaction with their daily to-do list
And others noticed too. And it was good
Over time, more people began arriving before 8. Whether for a full hour, or even just 15 minutes, the opportunity to sit in blissful silence and actually concentrate was too tempting to pass up.
Now approximately half the office arrived early. With muted nods and no stopping for conversation each person began their day in the way that worked for them.
And when the witching hour arrived, and customers called, and peers showed up the office took on a different tone and energy. And produced less per hour than Power Hour did. A time for thinking.
In your business think about establishing your own Power Hour and related support systems.
There’s the insurance company that won’t allow internal emails on Friday. Coke has banned voicemail. The marketing firm that won’t turn on their phone system until 9. Stand-up meetings. Casual dress. Hotel cubes.
Whatever works for your business. It is clear now that herding people into open environments doesn’t increase productivity although it does lower infrastructure costs. So, if you are immersed in this office space typography consider Power Hour and related tools.
Businesses around the world are rediscovering what we have known for centuries: we all need some private, undisturbed time to concentrate.
Give your people the time – and tools – to do their work.