‘Give marketers flexibility and you’ll see a productivity boost’

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With commuting length and working hours at an all time high, and sick days hitting a low, experts have their say on how leaders can introduce a healthy work-life balance to increase productivity.

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Marketing leaders need to focus on flexibility and understanding the different needs of individual workers, not try to increase working hours, if they want happier workers and a boost to productivity.

Productivity is a measure of how much value the economy gets from each hour of work. And in the UK it is lagging. It has barely grown since the financial crisis and is now 35% behind Germany and 30% behind the US. There are two ways to improve it; use better machinery or increase the speed and quality of the work people are doing.

For Twitter’s VP of EMEA Bruce Daisley is the quality aspect that matters. Speaking at a Neo@Ogilvy event yesterday (14 March), he said despite problems, people want to work, live longer for working and are healthier because of it. He said companies now need to make it a happier environment to ensure results.

“If you work more than 55 hours a week there is no more output than if you work 70 hours per week. There is no benefit to working the additional hours,” Daisley explained.

He believes there are three key things to making the working environment happier. These include:

  1. Avoiding distraction and moving away from open office environments. Working from home can be more beneficial and can lead to less distractions.
  2. Articulate values clearly. Whatever a company’s values are, whether that is phones off during meetings or starting work at varied times, employees should understand what it is their own company values.
  3. Work in bursts for greater productivity.

We still need to work from the office to develop young talent who benefit from face-to-face interaction.
Adam Field

Adam Field, ex-brand director at Nike, agrees that working in bursts and detaching yourself from work on holiday is beneficial.

Sitting on a panel at the event, he told the audience that he forced his staff at Nike to delete their email app off their phone when they went away. He would also remove them from his team’s Whatsapp group. This is something the panel, which included Tom Pilchard from agency Backscratchers and Jack Parsons, CEO of YourFeed, agreed gives employees time to relax and be more creative.

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However, Field believes some structure is still required and that today’s working from home mentality is not necessarily the most beneficial to the workplace or the individual.

“We still need to work from the office to develop young talent who benefit from face to face interaction,” he explained.

He said interns want to be able to sit down and have a coffee with people senior in the business, something that would not happen if they were not based in the office. He said he has benefited from being able to do this throughout his career.

The panel also discussed how new working patterns can be pushed through by taking small steps, including offices agreeing to turn off phones and only sending emails at set times so workers don’t become distracted or lose face-to-face interaction.

Parsons, a 23-year-old entrepreneur, said it’s about “working smart, not hard”, for young talent and doing what works for them.

“The internet has created a hustler mentality which is revolutionising the work place,” he said.

The panel believe age alone is not the only catalyst for changing working environments. Pinchard explained how age and personal situations need to be considered more in the working environment in relation to parents and those retiring who would be much happier continuing to work.

“Two big things happen in life – having kids and buying a house, both of which shake the foundations and require flexibility,” he said.

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