Since the invention of the “six simple machines,” humans have sought to design tools that increase their productivity by reducing points of interruption within a given task. We’re subconsciously aware that the wheel and axle are largely responsible for man’s advancement past the stone age by allowing for large-scale agriculture and trade. Yet in today’s world of dizzying new technologies, we hardly notice them at all--unless they fail to work properly.
And while our inventions continue to get more and more complex, many are still designed for the same simple yet essential goal of decreasing interruptions to workflow in order for people to focus their energy on more important tasks. Countless studies have demonstrated how seemingly innocuous distractions can cause people to shift their cognitive focus and lower their productivity. At Henge Docks, we’ve responded to this pain point by designing products that reduce the unnecessary distractions that cause friction in our daily lives; friction that may not even be noticeable until it disappears entirely.
The Cost of Interrupted Workflow
When taken together as a whole, workplace distractions can have significant implications for businesses. A study produced by Gloria Mark, professor of informatics at the University of California Irvine, on the cost of interrupted work found that the context of the disruption didn’t affect the outcome. However, interruptions of any kind caused workers to compensate by working faster, which resulted in more stress, higher frustration and lower overall productivity. Even minor distractions, such as having to plug and unplug devices from a laptop before heading to a meeting, disrupt a worker’s mental flow.
Mark found that it took on average 23 minutes and 15 seconds to fully return to the original task after a disruption. And while wasted time certainly cuts down on worker efficiency, the fact that workers are shifting their cognitive resources to a completely different task is an even bigger drag on high-level productivity.
“I argue that when people are switching contexts...they can’t possibly be thinking deeply,” Mark told Fast Company in a Q&A on the topic. “There’s no way people can achieve flow.”
The Impact of Office Design
In order to attain optimal flow in the workplace, you must also design an environment with ideal ergonomics in mind. A positive ergonomic space not only seeks to reduce worker injury, but also strives to create an area that facilitates both worker productivity and happiness. For example, a cluttered desk interrupts a worker’s flow by causing them to hunt for necessary documents and devices, while the mental disruption decreases productivity and increases stress.
A 2009 study published in the Journal of Public Affairs: Administration and Management reinforces this thesis. Authors Amina Hameed and Shehla Amjad found that, “Comfortable and ergonomic office design motivates the employees and increases their performance substantially.” This should be a wake-up call for any managers who feel that the cost savings from offering employees small cubicles filled with outdated equipment outweighs the value of worker productivity and happiness.
These concepts encapsulate the essence of Henge Docks’ mission. The company’s flagship products--the Horizontal Dock and Vertical Dock--not only increase the power, security and connectivity of your MacBook, but also subtly enhance your flow by allowing for a seamless transition between desktop and mobile work. In the age of the mobile workforce, these qualities are more important than ever. By decreasing the friction between workers and their environment and eliminating transitional interruptions, a Henge Dock gives workers the freedom to focus on the critical tasks that require their full attention. The resulting increase in productivity and worker happiness benefits all facets of an organization.
Much like our relationship with the wheel and axle today, Henge Docks’ products are designed to be taken for granted. You might not notice them until you’re operating without them--which is the exact moment you realize you need one.