Alexandra Kent

Working life’s a beach

Posted on 26th September 2014 by Alexandra Kent

Richard Branson is offering staff the right to take unlimited holiday, believing that it will have a positive impact on morale, creativity and productivity at Virgin. Brilliant! Who doesn’t love holidays?

But his decision has sparked more than a little scepticism. Simon Kelner argued convincingly in today’s Independent that putting responsibility to choose the amount of time off that’s appropriate to take and when at the door of individuals is, firstly, a huge burden and, secondly, one big presenteeism headache.

Dog beach richard branson holiday

I’m inclined to go further. Employers have a duty of care to their employees that includes the fair provision of time and space to recharge. Shirking ownership of annual leave policy is shirking ownership for staff wellbeing.

Whatever the motivation behind the move, the idea raises an interesting point about the link between rest and recuperation and better performance – especially when it comes to creativity. It’s an issue that’s also been on my mind this week, as Managing Director Claire and I have been talking to marketers about innovation at some great events with Ambition and PM Forum.

A common theme emerged through our conversations. Taking some quiet time to think is becoming near impossible, but marketers are increasingly being held accountable for innovation and ideas generation in their firms. Few marketers we spoke to felt able to take time to leave their desks, be idle, or have a good think. And creativity is suffering as a result.

As more and more people-jobs become robot-jobs, what really sets us humans apart is our capacity for creativity and thought. We’re not just doers, we’re thinkers too. We’re innovators and game-changers. But to be our most creative selves we need to sit down and shut up on a much more regular basis.

Holding out for your next week in the sun is not enough. Let’s take time every week – or even every day if you can manage it – to look after our minds and bodies with rest.

5 top tips for developing a creative habit

  • Be open: Become good at observing and noticing things in the world around you.
  • Be curious: Look for inspiration by exposing yourself to different industries, disciplines and people.
  • Be cultured: Look to the fringes as well as the mainstream for challenging new ideas.
  • Be positive: Build and evolve ideas instead of knocking them down. Cynicism and negativity are the kryptonite of creativity.
  • Be idle: Look away from the problem or challenge. Daydream, walk, run, listen, think, be peaceful.
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