Disconnect/Reconnect

ADC's Ignacio Oreamuno stops the car on the internet highway

‘In hell they have wifi, but you just get one bar.’

Every time I travel by plane, train or automobile — away from a stable internet connection — it’s evidently clear that I get a lot more work done than when I’m at the office. It’s extremely frustrating because it makes me realize how inefficient the web has made us. There’s just too much fun content, videos and jokes to spend our time absorbing. Why would I deal with the boring hard stuff in my inbox when there are World Cup memes to watch?

We have all of these toys, tools and networks and our disposal, but we’re abusing them and don’t know how to stop. I personally do not want to be a slave to content; I want to be free to do things with my life and the way to do that is to get as much done as quickly as possible so and leave the office with both a clear slate and a clear conscience.

This is why that we have begun to literally unplug the internet at ADC.

Starting this week, every day from 1 PM to 3 PM, we disconnect the ADC router and instruct all staff to turn off data on their mobile devices. Why 1PM? I believe that if you go to lunch knowing that the internet will not be waiting for you upon your return, you’ll actually slow down and have a proper lunch. I don’t believe that lunches spent at your desk hunched over your laptop are the way to a more productive team (even though I’m very guilty of doing that almost every day). Instead, break away and break bread with co-workers, escaping the confines of cubicles and desks. And when you get back from lunch, you’ll be full and ready to change gears and do different things on your to-do list, the things that the web tends to get in the way of doing.

“If a team doesn’t know everything about what other people are doing, you don’t have an organization; you just have an internet café”

Monday was the first day of our experiment, and everyone was initially terrified, but as soon as the internet was cut, we all felt at peace. ADC staff began getting up from their desks and meeting each other. The hundreds of emails we knew were flooding our inboxes didn’t matter because we couldn’t see them. That’s a very different feeling than if you would simply close your computer or turn off your browser. It’s just not the same.

After two hours of awesome meeting and calls, we counted down for a 3 PM reconnect. Excitement! The awesome thing was that with a full belly, a clear mind, and a grounding effect of the social media quiet we had another three extremely productive hours catching up with the emails that came in. We were now able to filter and prioritize and waste far less time.

Conversation and communication are the basic and most important part of an organization. If a team doesn’t know everything about what other people are doing, you don’t have an organization; you just have an internet café, with individual employees plugged in to their laptops with headphones in their own little worlds. Disconnecting the web was a wonderful way to reengage in the people and ideas that make ADC such a wonderful place to work, which in turn makes it a wonderful club for our members and friends.

This has been merely an experiment, not a new set of rules we demand the industry follow. We just hope you’ll draw some inspiration from our experience; after three days, we’ve been simply loving it.

Ignacio Oreamuno is the Executive Director of ADC