Our No IMs & Tweets Experiment

A little over 3 weeks ago we conducted an experiment to see how instant
messaging (IM) and Twitter posts affected company work flow and
communication.

Hypothosis:

IMs and personal tweets may be
negatively affecting our efficiency

Method:
Voluntarily
not using personal & work IM tools at workstations. Voluntarily not
accessing personal Twitter account(s) during work.

Length of
Experiment:

3 weeks, 2 days and counting

The following information about positive and negative effects was gathered during a brief company-wide discussion.

Positive
effects:

  • Increased ‘in the zone’ time
  • Less distractions without
    multiple conversations going on at once
  • “I saved at least 1.5 hours a day”
  • I
    learned to use the speaker phone
  • Long questions were better answered face-to-face, than through IM
  • Sending non-timely information by email rather than IM
    proved more effective, especially to groups
  • Learned to discern the value of
    a question, versus interrupting someone or having to get up and ask
  • Grouped non-timely questions into a list and then approached the individual to get everything taken care of at
    once
  • Eliminating personal tweets saved time
  • “Dave didn’t bug me” (and I gently weep)
  • More
    organized, less frenzied

Negative effects:

  • Verbal
    interruptions were more disruptive than IMs
  • More stressful; no
    breaks in the work flow
  • Physically checking to see if you could talk to
    someone was a waste of time
  • Physically interrupting someone cued the
    instinct to make small talk and waste time (being polite)
  • Short questions and information, like sending links or code, is better with IM
    than e-mail
  • “Felt like I
    was in jail” (was not aware that anyone here had that experience for
    reference)
  • Missed distractions as tool for inspiration; as something
    that cleared the mind and helped creativity
  • IMs were more effective than
    email for sending code snippets and links
  • Waiting on an email to answer questions or requests was less effective than IMs
  • Felt more
    comfortable because inappropriate private IM conversations weren’t
    taking place


Question:

When asked if you have been
more or less efficient in your work during this experiment:

– 11 staff
members say they have been more efficient during the experiment
– 2 staff
members say they have been less efficient during the experiment

Observations:

– Most
notable increases in productivity came from management positions
– ‘Creatives’
were affected negatively more than non-creative staff. Some complained
of stress without distractions

Conclusion:
– Instituting beta
test of Campfire IM tool by 37 Signals
– Continue to not utilize
personal IM accounts and personal twitter accounts
– Monitor our usage,
share our experience and adjust accordingly

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