In 2008, researchers at UC Irvine conducted an experiment to measure the cost of interruptions and distractions on a typical worker. One of their key findings was the amount of time that it takes someone to return to their task after they have been interrupted – and even though many of the test subjects were able to return to their work and complete their assignment, they reported an increase in stress as well as a decrease in the quality of their work.
Nearly 15 years later, the workforce has entered an age of distraction. With technological resources available at their fingertips and colleagues and managers instantly accessible throughout the day, the average employee faces more interruptions than ever before. Cal Newport explores this problem, as well as the increasing value of focus, in his book Deep Work, writing:
“The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.”
Employees know how important it is to focus – especially when working on complex, high-value projects. Yet despite advice from efficiency experts and workplace consultants, there is no system in place that can afford employees the time and space to truly immerse themselves in valuable work. Instead, workers are experiencing more distractions, longer hours, and greater stress – problems exacerbated by shifts to remote and hybrid work environments.
Adam Yormark has spent years studying deep work, and he has created a tool that is poised to dramatically change the way individuals and teams approach their daily tasks – creating an environment in which deep focus and concentration is not the exception, but the norm.
With FocusFlag, Yormark has designed a simple yet revolutionary efficiency tool that can be used by remote workers, college students, and throughout organizations, empowering employees to create a “private office,” an environment free of interruptions, wherever they choose to work. Built to attach easily to a laptop or computer monitor, FocusFlag is a remarkably effective indicator to everyone else in your home or office: When the flag is up, you are engaged in deep, focused work. When the flag is down, you are available for conversation and collaboration.
As Yormark explains, providing a tool that enables people to truly focus on what matters most will save companies countless hours and resources that are lost to interruptions.
“For engineering work, or other types of deep work that require you to really dive deep into the weeds, losing focus and later attempting to return requires so much time just to get back to where you started,” Yormark says.
“If you are an employer paying your employees a high hourly rate, and you see how this tool could save your employees just one interruption, then this already pays for itself in terms of productivity. There is a crazy high return on investment for people whose jobs require extensive amounts of deep work.”
Before FocusFlag, individuals have been forced to either endure frequent interruptions (some estimates place the number at 10-20 per day) or isolate themselves from others. Both “solutions” come with their own challenges.
There is tremendous value to deep work – it is where innovations happen, where problems are solved, and where breakthroughs are made. But it requires significant time and focus – something that is not always available in an open office environment. Employees need to work in a space where they can develop those rhythms, to get into their deep work, and to produce quality outcomes.
For some, privacy and isolation might be the answer. But for many, working alone can present just as many focus obstacles – possibly more – than can be found in an open workspace.
“If you are working in your own apartment and living alone, you might tell yourself that you are taking a break for 10 minutes, but those 10 minutes turn into 20,” Yormark says. “You can see that you are not being as productive as you want to be, but it is so easy to just hop the fence into the world of distraction and entertainment. So really, the best environment to do your best work is a place where you are surrounded by other people who are not going to interrupt you, yet also keep you accountable.”
Working in an open office or co-working among other driven individuals makes you more likely to concentrate on your own tasks – a phenomenon known as the Hawthorne Effect. But it works only if your colleagues and managers know when to interact with you and when you need to be left alone.
With FocusFlag, large offices can finally build the environment that maximizes worker potential and places an emphasis on deep work. For those who have used FocusFlag in real-world scenarios, the results have been staggering.
One of Yormark’s clients and a FocusFlag early adopter was the assistant director at a daycare center in Washington D.C. Faced with significant administrative tasks as well as daily work managing employees and children, she would struggle to complete her work by 5:00 pm.
“After buying a FocusFlag for herself, she was no longer pulled to the side all the time, having to refocus over and over again, and now she finishes her administrative work by 1:00 pm each day,” Yormark says.
“Your work is less stressful, you get it done more easily, and it’s also better quality because you can really dive into it. She loved it so much that she bought several more FocusFlags for her coworkers.”
In an age of distraction, the individuals and organizations that prioritize deep work will become increasingly more valuable. From a personal perspective, workers can now complete tasks and projects in less time and with less stress. For managers and business leaders, the amount of time and resources saved from interruptions at work has the potential to transform their company.
To learn more about FocusFlag’s groundbreaking impact on deep work and productivity, visit www.focusflag.com.