Could we enjoy work more?
By Liz Fletcher and Ching-Han Wan
“If you removed meetings and emails from your job, could you really describe what you do?” This was a question raised at a recent event with Bruce Daisley, author of The Joy of Work and Vice President for EMEA at Twitter.
The Joy of Work focuses on your average office culture but many of the topics ring scarily true for communications agency professionals. From trendy hot-desking offices and an ‘always on’ attitude, to full inboxes and meeting overload.
But is it possible that somewhere in the process, we’re unconsciously encouraging ineffective work practices that are detrimental to employee enjoyment at work?
Most of us are sometimes guilty of what may be perceived as ‘poor work etiquette’, such as emailing colleagues sat opposite from us, or not taking regular tea breaks. But if it’s so easy to recognise these bad habits, how can we get better at proactively making small changes to help us all feel happier at work?
1. Remember to laugh
As the saying goes ‘it’s PR not ER’. Every day, we aim to please our clients, bosses and influencers within a fast-paced environment. It’s very easy to get carried away. This constant hustle is not only damaging to work/life balance, but it’s also the reason why half a million people in the UK suffer from work-related stress.
Bruce says the best remedy for this is laughter. It helps us build resilience, teamwork and creativity. At WE, we try to laugh as regularly as possible.
2. Stop with the weekend emailing
Sending emails to colleagues outside of the regular 9-5 may feel useful to whittle down your to-do list and embrace flexible working. However, encroaching on your own and your colleagues’ ‘down time’ can have a detrimental impact on your teams’ performance. So much so, the French government put a blanket ban on emails outside working hours.
Unconventionally, Bruce says we should “let people almost forget they have a job at the weekend, so they come in fresh on a Monday.” When the drinks trolley comes out on a Friday, that’s when we wave goodbye to our teammates and encourage two full days to switch off, recharge and submerge ourselves in our personal lives.
3. Let go of the illusion of keeping people in the loop
Communications is a collaborative industry where bringing people together – either online or in person – is critical to getting decisions made quickly. Combined with the global nature of our jobs, we are always trying to keep everyone in the loop.
The Joy of Work argues that business meetings are largely oversubscribed and in fact “we are in a zone where the notion of keeping people in the loop is an illusion that we are connected but we are not.” We can all get better at declining meetings that we simply don’t need to join, or reducing the number of names on the CC line to spare others’ inboxes. Moving to Microsoft Teams or Slack is just one way you can remove bad email habits.
The importance of switching off
The chaotic nature of communications is part of the charm, but as burnout culture is rapidly on the rise, we owe it to ourselves to be more accountable for our own enjoyment at work. When we walk out of the office, we should be turning off mobile notifications for updates we don’t need, and rewarding ourselves with the breathing space to think up new ideas.
It’s a sure-fire way to make a positive impact on the business’ bottom line too; it is estimated that pointless meetings will cost the economy an estimated £45bn this year, according to Doodle. Put simply, Bruce stated that “you wouldn’t allow someone to expense a £50m bill, but you would waste that in value in terms of meetings a year.” So, in our timesheets economy, it’s easy to see the potential return by being more mindful of everyone’s time, and questioning the value of back-to-back meetings.
It’s down to us as individuals to know what is standing in the way of us doing our best work. By challenging unproductive work habits, we can be provocateurs for change in our workplace culture.