by Hollie Wegman ・ Office Hacks

Office Hack #23 — Twitter Unplugged

Envoy is all about making things easier and more fun in the office. In that spirit, we are proud to bring you our new Envoy Office Hacks podcast series. Every week, we deliver the coolest, most ingenious, and just plain fun fixes people have invented to improve efficiency and productivity in their workplace.

This week’s office hack is about honoring the calm and quiet of a life unplugged. It’s rare that we spend much time without a device in-hand, in-pocket or nearby.

You don’t need to look very hard to find studies reminding us that constant connectivity and all the frenzied behaviour it invites, is bad for our brains.

That’s what makes this week’s office hack more intriguing than most.

For many, social media giant, Twitter, might be the reason they’re always online, not wanting to miss a single tweet or trending topic. But even Twitter itself recognizes the importance of unplugging every now and then. So much so, they hacked their Canadian office to ensure employees did just that.

There are now spaces within Twitter’s Toronto office promoting the “meet and greet” over “meet and tweet”.

This cozy library is the centerpiece of Twitter’s efforts to stimulate interpersonal brainstorming, collaboration, or strategizing. It is…(gasp)…a tech-free zone.

No laptops.

No smartphones.

All electronics are forbidden in favor of real-life conversations, or old school, quiet analog moments of reflection gazing out the windows at southwestern Toronto.

With its almost soundproof quality, and no-reservations-allowed policy, this space serves as a digital decompression chamber.

“…with the library, it’s really an acknowledgement that working for a company like Twitter you’re going to be looking at a computer screen or smartphone screen for the majority of your working day. So when we moved to this space and the library came together, the thinking there was we really wanted a space that was going to be a bit of a respite…it’s a space you walk into and it feels really different from the rest of the office.” Cam Gordon, Head of Communications, Twitter Canada

And if you find yourself jonesing for a digital screen, or if you’re just feeling a little lonely, Justin Bieber will keep you company. He’s one of many life-sized cutouts around the Twitter Canada office, alongside Katy Perry, and MLB all-stars Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays, to name a few.

Other cutouts include William Shatner and NBA star Andrew Wiggins. All the cutouts, or rather, the real-life versions of them, have enormous Twitter presences. The idea here is to visually inspire employees with images of Twitter’s most dynamic users:

“…just knowing we have these A-list talents who use the platform, it’s a good steady reminder of how special it is to work for a company like Twitter that is so widely used, be it in the sports world or by mega-popstars…” Cam Gordon, Head of Communications, Twitter Canada

So yes, you can drag one of your favourite celebrities along with you if unplugging makes you uneasy. No judgment here.

If you’re inspired to hack such a space into your office, here’s some advice from Cam Gordon, Twitter Canada’s Head of Communications.

”If you’re going to invest money in making part of your office a different type of meeting, collaborative, relaxation type area, make sure you have the culture that’s going to really allow those spaces to be used. I think a lot of offices on paper encourage it but they don’t really mean it.” ### How to hack it

If you want to hack a tech-free zone into your office, you only need a few simple ingredients:

  • A relatively sound-proof, enclosed room to designate tech-free
  • Posted rules you can enforce to keep activity in the room free of devices and computers
  • Books, comfortable furniture, cushions and other items to make the room cozy and conducive to relaxation and deep thoughts

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