Working from the Northern Quarter Fridays

Coffee from North Tea Power

I blogged about how I started working out of the northern quarter quite sometime ago, the massive benefits and the Coffee shop clashes. A lot of people have taken this as “Ian is off on Fridays.” Which is so far from the truth…

A while ago I started using Project Hamster to record roughly how much time I was spending on projects (as I tend to have quite a few projects on the go at the same time, who doesn’t?)

Anyhow, I had a look at the aggregated results recently when sending to my manager (this is not the official way bbc rd does time tracking by the way, just me).

Project hamster results

It turns out Fridays are one of my most productive days, even more that Mondays and Thursdays.

Now I know what some of you will be thinking, yes its all manual reporting and I could lie, but why? Its as simple as this. When working from the northern quarter I tend to spend much more time just working away on my laptop. Its no chance this is when I spend the most time writing papers and the like too.

The second thing you might notice is I don’t work 8hour a day. Project hamster checks every 20mins to see if I’m actually active on the machine, so if I get called into a meeting or go for lunch, it will automatically stop. Generally when working from the Northern Quarter, I get less distributed or distracted.

This can be a good and bad thing. You can see the lack of disruption as a good thing but actually its the bouncing around of ideas at work which can be good, for example running into someone at the kitchen and talking for a while. Of course Project Hamster will time out and say I’m up to nothing. And actually its worth pointing out that all meetings (official/adhoc) are not included because its still time when not working actively working on the computer. As you can imagine I’m quite a social person and those adhoc chats over tea do add up.

Its not that I work better in the northern quarter, its that I work differently!

Lifehacker has another great post about working out of coffee shops. Here’s the key parts for myself…

A change of environment stimulates creativity. Even in the most awesome of offices we can fall into a routine, and a routine is the enemy of creativity. Changing your environment, even just for a day, brings new types of input and stimulation, which in turn stimulates creativity and inspiration.

Agreed… I’m not saying Media City isn’t inspiring and full of creativity. But its my norm and if I have to look at that wallpaper again I’ll scream 🙂 Of course I’m joking…

Fewer distractions. It sounds counter-intuitive, but working from a bustling coffee shop can be less distracting than working from a quiet office. Being surrounded by awesome team and officemates means being interrupted for water cooler chats and work questions. Being interrupted kills productivity. The coffee shop environment combines the benefit of anonymity with the dull buzz of exciting activity. Unlike working at home, with the ever-present black hole of solitude and procrastination, a coffee shop provides the opportunity of human interaction, on your terms.

The evidence is all in the data. I actually have lots of less important meetings on Fridays but their under my terms. Meaning I can get lots done in the time between.

Community and meeting new people. Meeting new people always provides me with new ideas, a different perspective at existing problems, or an interesting connection to a new person doing something awesome that inspires me. Today alone I met a top Skillshare teacher whose class I will now take, a sleep consultant, a publicist who offered to help with a project, and a wine consultant who recommended some bars.

One thing I wish I could record is the little meetings and chats I have. Some go nowhere and some go real deep. But generally meeting in the northern quarter means I can get a measure of someone and then refer them to a proper media city meeting or not. And of course there’s those chance encounters which you just can’t qualify an amount of value.

End of the day its not for everyone, but it works for me. Its surprising because I do love my height adjustable desk and fancy media city chair. FYG and North Tea power’s tables are too low and I do sometimes feel the discomfort setting in. But I tend to not notice because I’m just working or talking with someone great. If I had to work from the northern quarter 4 days a week and one day in Media City, I know I would be saying the opposite.

This is all summed up in the lifehacker post,

The experience of working out of coffee shops was so positive that even after we moved into our new home, I made sure to get in a few “coffee shop days” each month. For carpal tunnel related reasons alone, I would not recommend working out of coffee shops every day…

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.