In a world constantly pulling our attention in a thousand different directions, it’s a miracle we can accomplish anything. And a lot of times, we really aren’t doing meaningful work.
The average American spends over five hours per day on emails alone. Yes, read that again.
Communication is essential to any workplace, but how can we balance collaboration without it taking over our entire job? The solution is harnessing the power of deep work by creating a distraction-free environment for our teams to thrive.
We’ll explore why deep work and collaboration are essential elements of a successful workplace, the impact distractions have on our productivity, and ways to create an environment with as few interruptions as possible. Your teams will thank you!
Prioritizing Deep Work for Teams
Deep work is a state of supreme, distraction-free focus where we become our most productive and capable selves. It’s where our greatest cognitive potential lives. Here, we can tune into tasks that demand our highest brain power, energy, and attention.
Through deep work, we access our best problem-solving skills, creativity, work quality, efficiency, and harness our complex learning abilities. It’s prime real estate!
Best of all, deep work is inherently satisfying. Because we achieve so much meaningful work in this state, deep work gives us a sense of accomplishment.
And it’s a huge plus for our professional lives too. Not only do we feel like we are doing our jobs well — we are. We deliver stronger, more inspired work and can do it more efficiently, contributing to a boosted sense of value within our company and a sense of personal achievement. All of this contributes to our overall job satisfaction. And it makes us feel like our work matters.
Collaboration is Crucial to Success
At its core, collaboration is all about working together to achieve common goals. It’s how companies thrive! Organizations are constantly collaborating, sometimes externally, with other businesses and always internally with other team members. Meetings, team projects, and pretty much any interaction in the workplace are all forms of collaboration.
We do this because each person offers unique history, skills, and perspective. Plus, no individual can do it all. We rely on colleagues with similar job titles to spread our workloads and lean on coworkers in other positions for their expertise in areas outside our scope. Collaboration helps us work within our job description, keeping us effective and efficient at what we do.
The Whole Is Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts
It’s a bit cliché, but teams really are stronger together. Multiple minds working on one project expand its potential, often making it more successful than if an individual were to do the task. Collaboration encourages a host of invaluable skills and learning opportunities.
Effective collaboration is beneficial because it:
- Brings multiple lenses to the table
- Teaches us to take and make space for one another
- Pushes us to explore new perspectives and find connection points where our ideas overlap
- Encourages us to play to our strengths
- Allows us to learn from others while teaching others
- Splits up the workload, streamlining the process
- Keeps everyone accountable to one another
- Creates a support system to return to for feedback, advice, and encouragement
- Supports connection-building and effective communication
- Balances individual responsibility and social interaction within the workplace
Collaboration can also exist by working independently together. Merely sharing space with other humans hugely impacts productivity. Commonly referred to as coworking or body-doubling, this phenomenon explains why we work better together than apart. We crave connection!
Coworking is a type of collaboration that doesn’t inherently require participants to work on the same projects but rather physically (or virtually) work alongside one another. Being in the presence of other folks can limit your susceptibility to distraction. Like other forms of collaboration, coworking creates a sense of structure, accountability, and community. And this is especially huge for remote teams.
Tuning into Focus and Finding Freedom from Distractions
It takes humans an average of 23 minutes to recover from one distraction. That means each notification you click on, every unimportant “it’ll just take me a second” task, and every colleague knocking at your door takes 23 minutes out of your deep work state. It’s no joke.
One distraction triggers another, which triggers another, and suddenly it’s 5 o’clock, and we never returned to our original task. Whether we fail to finish our jobs or produce poorer quality work while juggling four other tasks, our sense of capability suffers.
We produce lower volume and poorer quality work, often leading us to question our value, skills, and overall job satisfaction. And in the desperate attempt to meet deadlines or complete tasks, there’s a good chance our work-life balance will plummet.
How can we possibly exist creatively or productively in a place like this?
But when it comes to distraction in collaboration, it can also show up more subtly. It doesn’t always look like someone popping into our meeting room unannounced, disturbing the conversation (though it might).
These are some other ways distraction exists in collaborative spaces:
- Speaking over our colleagues
- Wandering off-topic in conversations
- Not being “present” in the space
- Overstepping your role and micromanaging your team
- Gathering in distracting environments
- Taking on projects you don’t have the capacity for
- Not delivering on your responsibilities and setting the whole team off-track
- An unclear scope of the project or individual roles
Is There Such Thing as Over-Collaboration?
Communication is a vital aspect of working together. It’s necessary for planning, checking in, and keeping everyone on the same page. But can you overdo the communication? Absolutely.
It becomes a problem when we spend more time on emails, phone calls, Zooms, and Slack messages than anything else. While these communication tools are helpful, most people spend 85% of their work weeks engaging with them. It’s a brutal blow to productivity. Imagine how much we could accomplish if we changed our focus, directing attention to our actual work instead.
The Importance of Distraction-Free Spaces
Solid, uninterrupted workflow is like gold. Deep work only happens when we can monotask: focus on one thing at a time. Doing this allows us to tune into our creativity and fully channel our energy into each project. It’s the secret to a successful workplace. The problem is we aren’t often given space to do so.
Everyone has unique needs to support their focus and concentration. Some can easily tune out and hyperfocus on the work before them, while others may require as few stimuli as possible. If we want to create focused environments, we need to account for our staff’s diverse needs.
Beyond physical environments, adjusting workplace culture and expectations is essential for flourishing deep work for teams.
Managers Must Lead the Way to Collaboration and Deep Work for Teams
As managers, the productivity of your team reflects the environment you create. It’s crucial to support your staff by giving them the tools they need to thrive so you can all experience success. Empower employees towards greater collaboration and enhance deep work for teams by lessening distractions through changed workplace culture and spaces. Your team is more than capable, so help them flourish!
Create More Focused Environments
Focus comes from limiting the potential distractions in the space, but that doesn’t mean creating a bland and uninspiring environment. Little things like air quality, temperature, and furniture can make or break concentration while decorating with personal items, plants, and paint can give you a boost.
Balance Collaboration and Deep Work Needs
Consider that folks have different needs while collaborating with others than deep working independently. Do you have sufficient meeting spaces? Does sound from conference rooms travel through the rest of the office? Explore creative solutions that support your staff, from creating designated quiet zones and coworking spaces to investing in ergonomic furniture and noise-canceling headphones. And don’t forget to consider your remote teams too!
Shift Communication Expectations
Possibly the most impactful way to limit distractions is by changing the way we communicate. So let’s challenge “always-on” culture! There’s intense pressure to respond to emails, notifications, and instant messages immediately, but what if we set aside specific timeframes to do that instead? Or if we encouraged our teams to collaborate asynchronously so they could honor their deep workflow? Better yet, how about meeting-free days?
Though these changes are simple, they may feel unnatural at first. However, each of these adjustments can drastically improve deep work for teams — and save everyone a ton of time — so we encourage you to give it a shot!
Use Project Management Tools
Collaborate better and with fewer distractions by using project management tools like Asana, Trello, Todoist, or Notion. These workflow apps help with team planning and scheduling while allowing you to keep tabs on projects you’re leading, involved with, or have stakes in. To avoid adding more distractions to your days, turn off notifications and set times to check in with them instead.
Consider External Distractions Impacting Your Team
As hard as we try, it’s impossible to shake off personal distractions when you enter the workplace. And while it’s not your job to resolve every matter, explore ways your organization could alleviate some employee stress. Maybe this looks like enhanced physical and mental health benefits, subsidized childcare, higher compensation, or flexible work schedule or location.
Practice What You Preach
Ensure your actions as a leader reflect the company culture you desire. Check yourself for potential bias, such as favoring in-person teams over remote workers or expecting quick replies when folks are off the clock. To lead with trust, you have to model it yourself first.
Meet Freedom for Teams
Lean on the tools that empower your staff and make your job easier. Meet Freedom for Teams!
Our autonomy-based approach encourages individuals to take distractions into their own hands, letting each user set their own digital restrictions and limitations to reduce interruptions before they start. Block notifications, schedule time away from distracting websites, or tune into deep work-inspiring focus sounds. Access what you want when you want it.
Freedom for Teams eliminates distractions and lets employees take their workplace kryptonite into their own hands. Set up different restrictions for deep versus shallow work or independent versus collaborative projects. It’s fully customizable based on each individual’s needs. And all the while helping build crucial time management skills.
And it’s not just about your team — it’s about you too. So you can stop wasting time worrying that staff aren’t doing their jobs and instead lean into trust, knowing your employees have the tools they need to succeed.
As a manager, so much ends up on your plate. Freedom can help you focus on one thing at a time, avoid overwhelm, and power through to productivity.
Find Freedom in a Distraction-Free Environment Today
Sustaining collaboration and deep work for teams is essential to any happy, productive workplace — and this can’t coexist with constant interruptions.
So help your staff achieve their best by giving them the necessary distraction-reducing tools. Watch creativity, focus, and worker well-being flourish by introducing Freedom for Teams today.