8 Practical Creativity Tactics Can you ever be creative enough?…
Unlimited Time Away from the Office?
Having enjoyed a 10 day vacation recently, and in the midst of a 12 day holiday currently, I’m well reminded of the power of vacation time. That break from the grind can create miraculous outcomes – breathing life back into your soul and making you more productive at your work. But that’s just a holiday.
The break from the grind of routine, familiarity, and mechanical tasks is a real underlying source of improved productivity. I’m putting a vote in for autonomy and mobility as a way to create the optimal conditions for productivity we need in our country. Canadian and US productivity is not stellar. We have to pick it up, and I think this is route we will be forced into.
But employers seem to be dead set against giving workers freedoms outside the office. Even one venture to a work-related matter is treated with suspicion. Besides the belief that they’re “slacking off” there’s the attitude that time away from the office means only work from home. Time away could actually be at home, travelling, at another office in town, or at a private office in another city.
It may take time and training, but the outlook is pretty clear: empowered workers with maximum time and networking possibilities will outperform others at a level that we won’t be able to ignore. It’s already happening as work at home arrangements increase and companies outsource work to freelancers, and see productivity improvements and reduced costs.
What I want to introduce you to here however, is way beyond work at home. Work at home is dull and stagnant. It’s about worker enablement and productivity through mobility and immersion in the marketplace. I’ve seen this first hand with digital marketing agencies who have their staff free to be marketers, away from their desks. They learn faster and participate in a way that is comfortable and empowering for them.
Rising out of the ashes of the 9 to 5 grind, a new worker with full access to their own creative energies and personal motivations will power up the best companies in the coming decade. These empowered workers will outcompete and outperform their unhealthy desk jockey competition. The quality of their work and their creativity capabilities will make them much valued in the workplace. They won’t be chained to a desk.
Unlimited Time Away
The terms “mobile time” or “unlimited time away” either brings immediate derision or a sense of euphoria depending on which side of the work fence you find yourself. More writers and researchers are into this topic because a growing number of entrepreneurs, investors, and managers are wondering how they can get peak performance from their staff, in order to stay competitive and grow.
After reading an article by Jerome Ternynck on Inc.com on unlimited vacation days, I felt that a better term might be “optimal time away.” In fact, we’re excluding the word vacation from our vocabulary because that’s not what this is about. That away time could be work at home, professional skills networking, market awareness, trend experience, or anything else that’s good for them or their employer. The goal isn’t escape; the goal is maximum productivity and professional growth. These are sustainable benefits that the worker and company can commit to. If it doesn’t really work for the company, then it is doesn’t work for the worker either.
Top Assets of Optimal Time Away
- Emotional rejuvenation and better physical health
- Learning new techniques/professional growth
- Reduced commute costs
- More time to work
- More energy to apply to work
- More new knowledge brought back into the company
- Increased sense of personal satisfaction/contentment
- Improved productivity
- Better awareness of the customer
- More immersive awareness of trends, people and events in the marketplace
A Cure for Low Canadian Productivity
Productivity in the US, and in particular, Canada is rated as poorer than other nations. Gallop revealed that only 13% of workers are engaged in their work. Yet traditional work arrangements persist. We should be looking at any alternatives to power up our GDP and productivity per worker. Canadian conservatism could be deadly as we say goodbye to high oil prices and hello to an opportunity for high tech product and service exports.
When workers network and seek out new sources of information, they invariably create new client leads, promote the company’s brand, and grow their own competence. Workers need time to do that. Workers have to be seen as assets not costs or as machinery.
Gen Y’s – The Skipjacks of the Employment World
Companies are looking to get the best of the millennial generation on their team, but it’s almost certain not to happen. Many don’t even know what millennials want let alone to give it to them. Studying millennials is a great way to clue into the new world of work, competitiveness and profit. I like the millennials, because they’re going to create a much better place to work, grow and profit from as they come into their 20’s and 30’s. They’ll have the power and they’ll make it so.
Creating the Right Balance is the Right Goal
Offering marketing/IT/admin staff more time away from the office is a tough issue. Will workers remain motivated, disciplined, and productive if they’re away from the office too much? Is the office chair the ultimate podium for generating value in the digital era?
Professionals in real estate, marketing & sales, financial services, IT, business development, product designers, and business services specialists are spending more time out in the field, wherever that is, to build relationships, understand their customer, and deliver more personalized value to those customers. Being in the office 200 days a year means they’re not where they need to be and may equate to failure. That’s why company management have to look closely at loosening the reins on workers especially Ontario companies looking to expand to the US.
With our current work/commute grind, there is little time to balance personal and work lives. The result is stress that affects one’s work quality. And quality is job #1.
Being Out There to Learn, Grow, and Build More Value for the Company
If you’re an ambitious worker such as a salesperson, content developer, copywriter, photographer, videographer, designer, programmer, it will become more imperative that you carve out more time for work. Copywriter’s for instance need a constant influx of experience, fresh ideas, and other creative inputs to write convincingly. Lacking such experience, their clinical scenarios and cardboard characters convince no one. Impact comes from experience, out there in the real world.
I know of one business entrepreneur who frequently brings his staff with him to different events or meetings. Having his personal entourage makes his value proposition more personal, and more effective, especially in meeting influencers. Another reason why out of office generates new business.
The Need for Employee Development
Are workers ready to make a success of unlimited time away from the office? No. Sink or swim philosophies don’t work for drowning victims or workers. They need a context and orientation and perhaps HR departments will be orchestrating this evolution in worker management.
There is a need to be in the office to conduct important work and collaborate (although remote work has shown to improve collaboration). That’s a given. A company is not a collection of disembodied spirits. Second, workers need training in how to conduct themselves effectively. Some workers aren’t sufficiently motivated to do well on their own in a free form environment. Old school workers will need training and coaching.
Even highly motivated professionals will need training, and to return to the office to stay grounded and oriented. And when poor productivity and discouragement occur as they certainly will, workers need to return to the mothership to be rejuvenated by the company mission, staff and culture.
The movement to greater out of office time is coming. We can only learn to manage it to power our businesses.
Here’s 7 Reasons why having optimal away time will power up the next generation of entrepreneurial companies.
- Working while on vacation brings personal balance, reduces personal anxiety and depression, brings life balance and renewed enthusiasm about the employer’s business mission and brand
- Grows the worker’s personal experience, knowledge, and sense of empowerment – grows the worker’s ability to improve their performance
- Shows trust and acknowledgement of the worker’s level of responsibility – company’s own brand identity improves with worker attitude shift
- Maximizes the use of workers personal time and energy – easing time pressure and reducing negative attitudes toward work
- Helps attract better workers to the company – top performers do not always want more money
- Helps retain better workers – your top guns will have one less reason to jump ship
- Improves work productivity and work quality – an empowered worker with a fresh attitude and ability to get what they need professionally, lets them access 100% of their creative and productivity capability.
Every worker can benefit from improved away time, even auto factory workers who typically burn out after a few years of that grind.
Corporate execs and start-up managers need to be more mindful of how corporate work policies reflect the value of worker’s lives. Slavery comes through loud and clear when you hear about an auto worker goes to the doctor about their “repetitive injury syndrome.”
In the end, companies will adopt these policies or they’ll have no access to the best workers. As a practical business matter, these workers offer tremendous skill, energy, creativity, and maximum productivity. Their productivity alone will wipe out competitors.
Start seeing dollar signs when you think of the new “away time” workers because they’ll be powering up your bank account and creating a much better work environment in your company.