Do You Have to Work at Getting Work Done at Work?

I work as a reporter for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio, and invariably when one of the writers is gone for most of the morning or does not come into the office until the afternoon, we all have the same reaction: It’s nice of you to come into work today.


I always get a kick out of it when I am the one walking in late, and I always say it when someone else does the same. But, each time it happens, I think of the former NBC News reporter Arthur Kent, you might know him as the Scud Stud for his reportage during Desert Storm. I heard him one time on C-SPAN being critical of NBC’s decision to build its then new MSNBC Studios. I don’t remember the exact figure, but I do recall him saying at the time, “I never saw a $40 million dollar studio break a news story.”

Those words have stuck with me for more than a decade. Buildings don’t break news stories, they don’t sell ads, they don’t design ads, they don’t lay out the newspaper, they don’t print the newspaper and they certainly don’t deliver it. People do all of those things, with the aid of computers, machines and software. But, people do it.

Ever since hearing Kent utter those words, I have always been interested in how news gets done. Even though we reporters tease each other about finally coming into the office, our real work is done elsewhere. A reporter cannot break a story from the office, it has to be out in the field.

So, it should come as no surprise that when I saw the title of Jason Fried’s TED Talk, “Why Work Doesn’t Get Done at Work,” I had to listen to it.

In the video above, Fried basically says people try to get work done when they won’t be interrupted, so they will either go into the office early or stay late or they will go to a coffee shop or try to get work done while on a flight. These are some of the answers he receives when he asks the question, “Where do you go when you want to get work done?”

He never hears, “The office.” Check out the video, especially if you are a manager. Fried advocates for giving workers stretches of uninterrupted time to be more effective. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are not why people don’t get work done, it is the M&Ms: Managers and meetings.

He has three suggestions as to how to make the office the place where work gets done, and I suggest you listen to him.

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