2014 Schedule
Interactive: March 7–11  •  Film: March 7–15  •  Music: March 11–16

Workplace Distractions: A New Focus on Focus

#sxsw #how2focus


Distracted at the office? You’re not alone. Studies show 3 of 4 employees feel they aren’t effective at work with distractions pulling their focus to anything but the task at hand. But in a modern world seemingly custom built to distract, most people spend their work day focused on what is around them physically and virtually to the detriment of what is in front of them. This panel will tackle the challenges of focus work from a variety of perspectives with panelists including a workplace architect, an academic studying distraction in the workplace, and a behavioral researcher harnessing big data via sociometrics to understand and enhance employee collaboration. Moderated by a workplace journalist, the panel will explore the latest research to understand the importance of focus in the workplace, the cost of workplace distraction, how to stay focused in the midst of a chaotic workplace, and despite recent research to the contrary, why focus perhaps is not all it is cracked up to be.



Ben Waber


Sociometric Solutions

Ben Waber is President and CEO of Sociometric Solutions, a management services firm that uses wearable sensing technology. He is also a visiting scientist at the MIT Media Lab, where he received his Ph.D. He was previously Senior Researcher at Harvard Business School.

Ben's work centers around using real time data flows to understand communication dynamics of face-to-face interactions. He has been featured in Wired, CNN, and The New York Times, among other outlets, and his research was selected for the Harvard Business Review's List of Breakthrough Ideas and the Technology Review's Top 10 Emerging Technologies. His book, People Analytics, was released in 2013 by the Financial Times Press.


Gloria Mark

Professor, Dept of Informatics

Gloria Mark is a Professor in the Department of Informatics, University of California, Irvine. She received her PhD from Columbia University. Her research focuses on the design and evaluation of collaborative information systems and she has over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Her specialty is in studying multitasking among information workers and her research has demonstrated many aspects about how people multitask and experience information overload. She has given invited talks on multitasking worldwide. In 2005, she received a Fulbright scholarship. She has been the technical program chair twice for the top-tier ACM CSCW conferences, and is on the editorial board of the premier journals ACM TOCHI and Human-Computer Interaction. Her work on multi-tasking has appeared widely in the press including publications such as The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and the BBC.


Janet Pogue

Principal, Global Workplace Leader


Janet is the global leader of Gensler’s workplace practice area. She was instrumental in developing Gensler's workplace research program, and in the development of the firm's 2006, 2008, and 2013 Workplace Survey, and in developing the Workplace Performance Index® tool, which measures workplace effectiveness. Janet takes an active role on key projects across the firm and is responsible for strategic planning, mobility studies, and innovative workplace environments for a wide variety of client types, including government and private sector energy, financial, consulting, and digital technology.


Rachel Silverman


The Wall Street Journal

Rachel Emma Silverman is a reporter at The Wall Street Journal, currently on leave on a Nieman journalism fellowship at Harvard University. She covers management and workplace issues, writing features on topics such as workplace design, office distractions, firms with no bosses and the vogue for stand-up meetings, and is a contributor to the WSJ's "At Work" blog. She previously covered personal finance, focusing on estate and tax planning and edited "The Juggle," the Journal's work and family blog. Silverman is the author of "The Wall Street Journal Complete Estate Planning Guidebook," published in 2011.

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