We’ve had a ton of change in our office atmosphere at Seven Mile Road over the last 120 days. It’s been good change as God has added two full-time staff members and a summer intern. Nonetheless it is change and there is no question that moving from being solo in the offices to having four of us (plus our PT guys and drop-ins) necessitates change in behavior.

While it was once okay to knock on someone’s door when you had a quick question (It wasn’t ever okay, but we allowed it!), now it isn’t. If everyone does this and quick question after quick question develop into five or ten minute conversations we are losing more than focus. We are collectively losing the ability to choose what we focus on.

Enter HipChat. With HipChat, we have a Seven Mile Road specific group chat and instant messaging platform so that we can make sure it is okay to swing by someone’s office. Even better, it allows those one sentence question and answers to actually be one sentence.

Here are a few of other things I like about hipchat:

  1. HipChat allows us to separate life from work. The mobile app allows our office to separate personal texting from office, while still communicating. Texts are for talking about hoops and hipchat is about the budget, volunteers, etc. No more work texts that can wait sneakily grabbing attention at 10pm.
  2. HipChat allows us to separate work from life. Because we aren’t only relying on normal text messaging for communication between us, any of us can turn off our phone as needed to block out non-work related distractions while we work and no necessary office communication is hampered.
  3. HipChat keeps everyone in the loop. Our bi-vocational pastors can stay in the loop and in the conversation even though they may not be around the water cooler (We actually don’t have a water cooler or a fountain.).
  4. Custom emoticons are just plain fun. Enough said.

Another great thing about HipChat for smaller organizations is that it is free for up to five people. After that you are looking at $2/user/month, but that’s really not anything considering the productivity that effective usage will allow. HipChat gives a non-profit discount, but restricts it to non-religious organizations. This is disappointing, but there’s nothing to be done about it.

As you can see, I’m a fan of Hipchat. Hopefully you’ll find it helpful, too.

What tools are you using to increase focus in your office?