Jason Fried Of 37Signals Shares Tips For Creating A Productive Office Space

Workshops! Seminars! Training! Quiet rooms! 37Signals founder Jason Fried invites us into his new super-silent digs and shares tips on creating a productive workspace.

Plus, for kicks, we take a peek at Two And A Half Men star Ashton Kutcher's new Twitter app, A.plus.

And we hear from you about your ideas for productive workspaces.

Watch and discover more ways to Work Smart!

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  • Farhan Thawar

    This is interesting, but the opposite of what we do at Xtreme Labs.  Some previous comments talk about noisy environments as white noise to get productivity.  Instead we encourage a collaborative talkative environment where the background noise is actually relevant (i.e. it's not just white noise to help or distract you).  Mostly this is done via pair programming (two developers on one machine) in an agile team room.

    Amber, happy to host you anytime.  We're downtown at Yonge and King :)

  • hemidude

    I love the chalk board walls and the respect for each other, and for quiet. Sometimes the simplest things do get overlooked.

  • David Kaiser, PhD

    Jason makes a couple of great points. One is that they designed this space to work for them, to reflect their values and preferences. This is not meant to be universally applicable. I believe that productivity and environment are extremely personal. There is no one "best way" or "best practice." That said, the modern office is very distracting, and sometimes the best way to get things done is to turn it off. This is more than just finding literal quiet, it may include turning email, IMs, and the phone off, otherwise it can be hard to get more than 30 seconds to focus.

    David Kaiser, PhD
    Productivity Coach to Authentic Leaders

  • Lan Tran

    I like open offices! I think it's great but I also agree that with open office settings there is very little noise privacy. However, there is a way to have both collaboration and privacy without sacrificing one or the other, and without having the stereotypical systems furniture that is metal and grey. If anyone is interested they should check out OSI Furniture . They have some pretty cool stuff for open offices, but also allows for noise reduction and is acoustically rated! It's available in fun colors, and in laminate and veneer! @osifurniture:twitter 


  • Amber Mac

    I agree with Caleb.  37signals has found what works for them.  I'm used to working in chaotic newsrooms, doing lots of live TV, so I thrive on the noise and energy.  However, there is always a need for quiet time to put your head down and get focused work done!

  • Caleb Clark

    I mostly agree, buuuuut…. I am reminded of the newspaper "bullpens" of old. No walls, desks and chaos,  a big room. The police scanner was often on too. I was fortuante enough to work in such a bullpen for a day, and I never forgot it. I had to really focus on my work, which was to enter in a story I was doing as a "stringer" pre-web on a terminal interface. Reporters learned how to focus with enough force to write in this environment. It is similar to laptop working in a cafe and the discipline it takes to stop people watching. I believe there is some value in practicing this type of focus, even in this new information age. I also agree that 37Signals looks like they got their offices right for their culture.

  • Melissact

    I don't think the idea is to be in total silence but to be more mindful of how loud we are speaking... and we all can get pretty loud when we're sharing excitement or frustration or information about something... especially in an open office. Where I work, it's all open and I love that but somedays I just wish everyone would friggen shut up for 30 minutes straight, you know? I know I'm more productive when we have spurts of quiet in the office and to be honest, I don't want to always have to plug myself into iTunes to get that quiet time either... It's a balancing act for managers, to be sure.

  • NoahRobischon

    I wonder what effect the total silence has on the interpersonal and office culture of 37 Signals. Talking in the office isn't just about collaboration!

  • Dan Fonseca

    Very interesting. Usually the trend these days is to have an open, active workspace where collaboration is seamless. Needless to say that is generally pretty loud. I am interested to see how the quite work zone plays out.