Book recommendation: Peopleware

peoplewareI find myself recommending this book so often in person that I thought I would mention here on my blog too.

Peopleware is an amazing book: every time I have lent out my copy, the person I lent it to has gone out and bought 3 copies: one for themselves, one for who they report to, and one for who reports to them.

It is the only book I have ever read that addresses why knowledge workers – people whose job is literally to think – work best in quiet environments and therefore why open plan offices are fatal for such work and workers.

It has the only empirical experiment I have ever seen to test how badly interuptions break the flow of work for knowledge workers, and thus actually quantifies why it is such a bad idea to allow these kind of staff to be knocked out of flow so easily.

It looks at the whole concept of “flow” – or being in the zone – in detail, and one of the main lessons I still know by heart to this day is this: if it takes you 10 minutes to get into flow, which is the state where you are working and ignoring everything around you and actually creating something of value… – and you get knocked out of flow every 9 minutes by an interruption, then you will get nothing useful done that day at all.

That is to say – you will be body-present, but not mind-present…

One of the best books I’ve ever read on the fundamental differences between knowledge workers and physical workers, and how almost all managers totally fail to understand them.

Online, digital and social media marketing expert in Birmingham