Office distractions could be costing your company more than $30k per high-performance employee each…
William Belk
55115

OK, someone mentions Paul Graham in an article about interruptions, yet misses the best quote!

In http://paulgraham.com/wealth.html, Paul has a footnote (#1) about just this thing:
 [1] One valuable thing you tend to get only in startups is uninterruptability. Different kinds of work have different time quanta. Someone proofreading a manuscript could probably be interrupted every fifteen minutes with little loss of productivity. But the time quantum for hacking is very long: it might take an hour just to load a problem into your head. So the cost of having someone from personnel call you about a form you forgot to fill out can be huge.

This is why hackers give you such a baleful stare as they turn from their screen to answer your question. Inside their heads a giant house of cards is tottering.

The mere possibility of being interrupted deters hackers from starting hard projects. This is why they tend to work late at night, and why it’s next to impossible to write great software in a cubicle (except late at night).

One great advantage of startups is that they don’t yet have any of the people who interrupt you. There is no personnel department, and thus no form nor anyone to call you about it.

I feel like this aspect of development has been lost to the open work space trend. So the “kids today” don’t even KNOW that there is an advantage to being quiet and think hard for long periods of time. That’s the biggest advantage I have, and it’s no longer possible to do it.

Last week, I pushed a chair into the entrance to my cube to try and request that I be left alone. I had my Bose quiet time headphones on, had my head in my hands, staring at a large SQL query…this 20-something kid climbed OVER the chair and raps me on the shoulder to ask me some inane question that he had about his task.

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