Do You Really Need To Work Weekends?

Posted by Ray Kieser on October 21, 2016

The creative industry has never been one for early nights. Late starts maybe but the hours are notoriously long and in fact, a few years ago, working long hours and weekends might have been a badge of honour – a way to prove you were committed to the agency and hunting for success. As a result, people could end up kissing goodbye their personal lives, exchanging them instead for all-nighters in the studio and a sleeping bag under the desk.

But what toll does this take on your teams? On the morale of the office? How can you expect your teams to socialise, build on the culture and enjoy working with clients and each other if they are too busy to take a lunch break or don’t get some personal space every weekend? It was these kinds of questions that sparked a renewed demand for better work life balance in the creative world.

One of the best strategies is to simply work smarter, not harder. Now, this will be different for every agency but it essentially introduces the idea that people can be responsible for themselves without the business going under. Need to go home and look after your sick child? No problem as long as the work gets done. Need to take time to get a new passport? No problem as long as the work gets done. Need to get to the post office before the soul destroying lunch time rush? No problem as long as the work gets done.

Obviously, there are internal and client meetings that need to be considered and you don’t want your agency to lose its culture and unique work space because everyone works remotely – it is a team game after all. But, if you have a team continually exceeding its targets, satisfying clients and generally engaging positively with the agency, why should you care how they are doing it? Management teams who are able to focus on the destination and empower individuals to manage their own journey will find their agencies most likely to succeed.

Trying to live and breathe work smarter, not harder is a marketing agency in Liverpool who introduced the six-hour work day for two months. It gave employees the opportunity to come in early and leave early or come in late and leave late, and according to this article it had a very positive impact on the team. Of course, there were issues that cropped up meaning teams couldn’t always work six hours only but on average, that was the aim. One of the key points was that the hour-long all staff meeting was reduced to just eight minutes – if that’s not working smarter then I don’t know what is.

Another way to work smarter is to introduce technology to streamline and automate key operational processes – ultimately removing the headaches often associated with manual processes. A good agency management system will connect the front end interface (think easy-to-use timesheets for your creative team and effective resourcing calendars for resource managers) with an efficient and highly productive back end (think umbrella view of the financial history of the agency at the push of a single button). An agency management system will also support smart decision making – allowing for real time decision making that is critical in today’s environment.

Creating a good work life balance within the creative industry is easier said than done but there have been some really positive changes that ultimately will make a difference. The biggest being that being a weekend warrior is no longer cool or something to be admired, rather, all the cool kids now are heading out the door – on time.