So I've been uncommunicative lately, I've not had much of interest to communicate.
I want to talk about one of the things that management can manage that will improve productivity x10+. That simple thing is to make sure that their staff are happy.
Here's my personal experience...
If someone makes me angry I will lose a lot of time and focus. If I am stressed I will find concentrating hard. If I keep being bothered in an uncontrolled manner I will make mistakes and my productivity will dive.
My general happiness and mental well-being are quite closely related to productivity and quality. I have literally lost a day of work because someone got up my nose!
A company or management that was interested in employees being near maximum productivity during their time at work would do well to think on this (but they won't).
So what can managers do? I actually think this is the win-win, managers can do less. So less meetings, less organising of workspaces, less organising full-stop. Essentially give work, give support, get out of the way.
Creative and problem-solving work needs time. If I have a complex problem to solve I will not pick it up unless I have at 4 hours clear in my diary. If I have a meeting scheduled I will want time to prepare for it. If that meeting is mid-morning or mid-afternoon I will will have lost that 4 hour timeslot to tackle a problem. Management can help here. If you have to have meetings help your creative staff by scheduling them 1st thing in the morning. Or replace them with an email.
I always try to educate my managers in this fact, I work in blocks of 4-6 hours if you interrupt me during this block of time I will be less productive and will get frustrated. Managers tend to work in much shorter periods of time, if they have never been a developer it may be news to them.
Not all of my work needs that level of concentration tho', so a reasonable compromise is to offer up a day where you can be interrupted. This actually breaks up the working week somewhat.
All Interruptions are not equal
To really annoy your creatives ask them a question that requires them to context switch. Removing the complex model I've built up in my mind to answer a stupid enquiry will badly affect productivity and quality. But for me I don't need silence (other developers do like silence). Again this is easy to manage, try asking your developers how/where they like to work and support them in it.
Opt-out, non-immediate communication really helps here, for creative types emails, messenger apps (teams,slack) and text messages are all ways to communicate that do not need immediate attention.
For me I can receive a notification and that will not break my concentration. I can then attend to it when I have finished the thing I'm working on.
Leave a copy of Peopleware around your office or on your managers desk, it's old and still very applicable. It's actually based on some actual studies. The organisational space available to the developer was very closely related to productivity and quality. Once again this is easy to manage. Just allow people to organise themselves.
Open-plan non-personal workspaces have been shown to absolutely kill productivity (happiness, morale) for creatives. So would managers rather watch their staff be unproductive or perhaps just understand their productivity and what affects it.
Finally I'm not saying everyone should have personal offices, I always worked best in a small project group, that project group would share an office/workshop space.
In my experience stress is related to 2 things dishonesty and bad communication. Dishonesty is quite a harsh word , but essentially if you promise something unachievable you are being dishonest. If your manager promises something on your behalf that can't be reasonably achieved, they are being dishonest. If a project is starting to go wrong and you tell no-one.....dishonest.
The key here is that honesty will relieve a lot of stress. An honest assessment will allow plans to made that can mitigate some of the worst aspects of a problem. Or you can stress about it...
The bad communication bit comes from not being listened too. An unempowered workforce will be a stressed workforce.
Everyone is Different
The great thing about self-organising teams is that it allows for everyone to be different. It celebrates that difference, rather than trying to eradicate it. Being in a small section that has its own identity can lead to the type of teamwork companies say they aspire to, and without the cost of hotels and raft-building exercises.
Quality an Intangible Benefit
Unachievable deadlines often lead to poor quality and poor quality is the best way to destroy your teams culture and morale. Quality of product and process is very closely related to happiness. Engineers want to be proud of what they are making, it's actually one of our greatest motivators.
A final thought ...
An additional complication to this is that humans have evolved to be extremely adaptable, this means that we adapt to being stressed and miserable, this becomes our baseline norm. Try and remember how you feel when you feel calm and happy, what were the circumstances. This should be your norm, it's actually the state where you will be able to concentrate best.
How far away from this state are you?
Who and what dragged you away from this state?
If you are miserable in your job, you have 3 choices -
Change the situation
Change your job.
Suck it up.
On the scales of decision making, it always surprises me how heavy the fear of change is for people. They will willingly put up with untold amounts of crap before they jack in their job.