As much as many business owners I meet think this, Facebook did not start the distracted workplace.

If you’re going to argue with me about this, I want you to take a look in the mirror. Think back a few years. Did you have distractions and time wasters? Yes, you did.

  • Taking smoke breaks, or worse, smoking while you worked (ick).
  • Driving while holding your coffee (cup holders in cars are part of the modern era).
  • Talking with your co-worker at the printer while waiting for your document to come, or while you were clearing unending paper jams.
  • Calling home to listen to your answering machine.
  • Playing with a stress ball.  Playing with it until all the ooze came out.
  • Playing cubicle Nerf basketball.
  • Talking with your co-worker while your computer rebooted.
  • Talking to the receptionist.
  • Filing.
  • Doodling.
  • Kids calling you at work to tell you they are home from school.
  • Making sure you got your money in for the office pool lottery or Superbowl picks.
  • Ordering your Girl Guide cookies.
  • Making lists while you worked that included things like leaving at a specific time to get to the post office, the bank, renewing your driver’s licence. Perhaps this list included getting to Happy Hour on time.
  • Getting your Christmas shopping done while the stores were open.
  • Talking about the latest episode of Seinfeld at the water cooler.
  • Making a grocery run on your lunch hour.
  • Playing hand-held video games.
  • Horsing around or loud or boisterous play.

I used to type a lot of memos. I mean a lot of memos. HR used to be all about memos. And to reuse a comment from one of the keynote speakers, many of the memos were bcc:d. For the newer folks in the room, bcc means “blind carbon copy”. This means that I put two sheets of paper into a typewriter, stuck a piece of carbon paper between them, typed out my message, and then photocopied the carbon copy. Yes, there were was a point in time in which we did these things. And believe me, I wasn’t the greatest typer and making this type of document took a long time and required oodles of white-out. And, this secret little document is at the root of all HR evil as they say.

But I digress.

What I am really trying to get at here is all the rules and processes put in to eliminate the distractions in the workplace and to get people focused are very distracting. We all have the focus of a squirrel now and if we don’t get better at incorporating “socialism” into the work, we will just continue to be frustrated about how much time we are spending not focusing on the work. Shouldn’t it just be about the results?