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Why working in an office doesn’t work

Working in the office

For the past six months, I have tried it again: working in an “office. In January, I rented a beautiful co-working space at Westerpark through the well-known Spaces. Everything is toppie in order as far as the workplace is concerned. I do feel a bit like I’m working in a room from the Ikea guide. Sterile and many contrived spaces with bookcases containing books that are never read. On my first few visits, I actually manage to do a couple of hours of vigorous work in the quiet room. But after a few weeks, the niceties wear off and I start exhibiting work-avoiding behaviors during my work sessions: checking the sports news, playing a game of online chess and drinking a lot of coffee while sitting in front of me dreaming about how hard I’m working.

Attention Span

My attention span is highly variable. Some days it works fine to spend a couple of hours being quite focused. The other day it ran out after one hour. According to Wikipedia, the average attention span is around 5 hours, also mentioning that this is the result of attention training during training and study. 5 hours seems like a lot, when I look around me what people do while working there is a lot of messing around while working. In training sessions, people complain bitterly that their attention span is so bad. My conclusion: we are simply not made to sit still in one place for hours at a time and work (and stress) alone with our brains. We are made to move and do varied work. The office garden and productivity is a bad combination.

How then?

I am finding out more and more that the variety between different workplaces works well. It is precisely the variety that keeps focus good. I look for different workplaces that fit the work I need to do:

  • The Coffee Company around the corner works fine when I want to work focused for a few hours. The environment in which I see other people working also helps. The quality of the chai latte with double shot decaf can’t be beat. Good noice cancelling headphones are a prerequisite for good deep work, though.
  • Home is a great place to spend an hour concentrating on processing mail, doing paperwork or doing a coaching session via Zoom.
  • Joining friends who have their own offices occasionally for a few hours working together provides companionship and inspiration.
  • The Boulderhal Beest in Amsterdam has a large room where the coffee is also excellent. Alternating work with bouldering provides energy and new ideas.


Focus is one thing. If this is not in order, you can sit in the office all you want, but nothing will come out of your hands. Finding out what suits you can sharpen your focus.

Need help developing focus?

Job Baart de la Faille

Ik ben een online coach die je helpt om slimmer te werken (en niet harder). Via online coaching help ik je om jouw eigen systeem en gedrag te ontwikkelen.

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