Article by
Gildas Jones

Maximise productivity for Geeks trying to do deep work, when you don’t want to be interrupted, set the flag to red

12/14/2017

Reduce distractions when you’re in flow: the traffic light system

At Dial a Geek, we work with a ticketing system: all our work is channelled through Freshdesk, where we can manage the entire flow from when a call comes in to when we tick off the task as complete.

Despite this, a lot of multi-tasking can go on while we’re waiting on progress bars and updates. Sometimes we technicians become lost deep in a task, pulling together numbers, passwords, settings and data. If the phone rings, or a colleague just wants to ask a quick question, it can really throw us off the scent.

With research showing that it can take over 25 minutes to get back in the flow of your original task after an interruption, it’s in our interests, and those of our customers, to minimise these distractions. Efficiency is our watchword!

And so we put our heads together: how best to let our colleagues know when we’d like to be left alone? Each technician has their own needs: some can do complex email migrations while standing on their heads, while others need a little peace and quiet when dealing with volumes of data. So the calendar isn’t a good indicator of not-to-be-distractedness: and we don’t necessarily want to shut ourselves away for an hour at a time anyway.

And we’re in an open plan office, so cutting off all distractions is not possible. New calls come in and need to be put to the top of the priority list – like support contract clients, or email issues that stop people working – but the longer that technicians can go without distractions the happier our clients are.

The traffic light solution

Old Father Google came to our rescue. Drawing on stories from other businesses, we plumped for a traffic light system. Red for ‘Do Not Disturb’, Amber for ‘Open for quick enquiries’ and Green for ‘I’ve been re-checking this blog post for 15 minutes already so a different task job would be welcome’.

The traffic light system that we’ve adopted is called Luxafor. Luxafor are a company who make neat little illuminated flags which can be attached to your monitor. The flags display the colour of your choice, so you put them somewhere your colleagues can see them, control them through the free app, and others in the office will always know when you can be tapped on the shoulder, and when you need to be left well alone.

We’re still in the testing phase, and we’re getting used to checking the flags as we go. But suffice to say that it’s made us all more aware of each other’s work patterns, as well as our own. And best of all, it hasn’t subdued or dampened the friendly atmosphere in the Dial a Geek office. These little flags just silently let us know when to keep it down a bit!