Programming in an Office

28 Jun 2017 other

Are any programmers that work in office environments productive? If so, I'd like to hear from you because I'm convinced it's not possible.

Programmers like to talk about a mental state called "flow". I like to describe it as a feeling of absolute concentration where thoughts and time cease to exist entirely, the problem becomes your existence, code flows from your fingers like a fucking magician.

I used to work remotely exclusively. I'd reach flow several times a week, if not once a day. Since I've started going into an office I've reached flow a grand total of 0 times (during what are called "normal working hours").

The office it seems, is the enemy of flow. Constant noise, movement and interruptions almost guarantee you cannot achieve requisite amount of time concentrating before reaching it. Personally this is at least 45 minutes.

What I'm really curious about is whether other people besides programmers also feel this burden of distraction. Is anyone really living up to their potential in these kinds of environments?

Americans work more hours most do in other countries, yet our productivity doesn't seem to match. Could it be that people, spending the majority of their day to day lives at the workplace as so many do, end up satisfying the (very human and very real) need to socialize and interact during work? This is a depressing thought.

Perhaps people are simply lazy and would rather socialize than do real work. This is even more depressing.

By far my worst theory is that unproductively is actually contagious. A particular person feeling particularly unproductive may actually feel the need to ruin someone else's concentration in order to make themselves appear more busy. Or possibly they just want to socialize in order to make themselves feel better. Either way this brings down everyone.

I think offices are a vestige/product of two eras: first the industrial revolution when ass in seats = output and from the few centuries after that when communication was still sufficiently annoying that having people in the same physical place was made sense.

Nowadays we can communicate instantly with anyone at any time, yet our workplaces haven't really changed all that much. There are organizations like Github that have embraced the modern age but by and large most people are still stuck in old habits.

How much longer must we suffer? When will it dawn on people that they could be much happier and more productive with physical autonomy?

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