The world of work today is in many ways unrecognisable from my early career in media sales in the late eighties, early nineties (that does make me one of the oldest people in media!)
As a media sales executive my tools were a phone, a lever arch file and if budget permitted, bespoke 35mm slide* decks for important pitches!
Email wasn’t mainstream which was fortunate, as we didn’t have computers.
The only people who had mobile phones were self-made business people with strong arms.
In sales, we rarely worked past 5.30pm and never worked at the weekend.
Fast forward 20 years or so, and huge advances in technology have changed how we work, but is it for the better?
Bruce Daisley who is the author of the Sunday Times No#1 bestseller “The Joy of Work” and hosts the UK’s number one business podcast Eat, Sleep, Work, Repeat thinks not.
Bruce, who started his career in media sales has worked at Emap, YouTube/Google and now leads Twitter’s EMEA business, so has a deep understanding of the modern media sales and tech led working culture.
According to Bruce, “since the inception of email 15 years ago the average working day has gone up from seven and a half working hours a day to nine and a half hours a day”.
In fact, in America there’s an expectation in some places for employees to stay online, connected to their work, for 70 hours a week. This new way of working is creating a burnout epidemic. People are in a state of over-stimulated exhaustion since email went onto our phones.
Work is no longer fun for many. Nor have our longer hours resulted in greater productivity, in fact productivity in the UK is amongst the lowest in Europe. Why is that?
Bruce is passionate about workplace well-being and changing how we work to bring joy back to work.
His approach to the book is similar to the writing of Malcolm Gladwell and Dan Pink in that he takes the latest research in neuroscience and behavioural science as well as ‘people analytics’ to create simple steps everyone can take to make their work a much happier place. All of his suggested actions are backed by strong research.
So, if you are working in a stressful environment with a long hours culture what can you do?
He focuses his advice around three areas:
- Recharge – how we can restore our energy, enthusiasm and creativity at work
- Sync – how to bring teams closer, enhancing collaboration and building collective intelligence. “We all have a need to belong. We are stronger, more energised and more collaborative when we are in sync with each other”
- Buzz – a sense of engagement and positive energy, created through two phenomena: positive affect and psychological safety. Psychological safety means that no one will be punished or humiliated for errors, questions, requests for help or delivering straight feedback to senior people.
“Teams who are positive and who feel free to speak their mind are unconquerable. Ideas flow. Nothing looks as though it can stand in their way”
Top Takeaways from this book…
I have split the Bruce’s’ top tips into two areas: actions you as an individual can take and actions leaders can take. These are often small steps that can achieve remarkable results.
Top 10 Actions for Individuals:
- Find time to do deep focused work with no distractions a few times a week
- Stop celebrating over-work. 40 hours is enough.
- Turn off email and social media notifications on your phones, particularly in meetings, after work and at weekends – being “always on’’ has been shown to increase stress levels
- Take a proper lunch break away from your desk
- Try out ‘walking’ meetings – going for a walk can unleash your creativity
- Don’t assume your work culture is inevitable and can’t be changed. It can.
- Get lots of sleep
- Allow yourself time to do nothing – constant busyness doesn’t achieve more. Try exercising or travelling on the tube without listening to music.
- Focus on one thing at a time – multi-tasking is a myth
- Have a laugh – celebrate the funny people in a team
Top 10 Actions Leaders/Managers can take to create Sync and Buzz in your teams:
- Get people talking to each other. Where you put the kettle/water cooler is important!
- Question the meetings you organise – are they all needed, could they be shorter?
- Organise social gatherings for your team
- Don’t send work emails at the weekend
- Know when to leave people alone to work and when to bring them together
- Admit when you make mistakes
- Frame work projects or problems as challenges that everyone on the team can be involved in overcoming. Encourage people to question and be curious
- Keep your teams lean – 8 or 9 people max
- Ban mobile phones in meetings
- Get people to go home on time
As Bruce states in the book, “Everyone wants to do a job they are proud of. We all love the sense of delight from laughing with our colleagues”. The world of work would be a much happier, fun place if people adopted his ideas.
The book is brilliant and Bruce’s website is also a treasure trove of ideas and short videos that you could bring into team sessions to start a discussion on ideas you might want to introduce. Take a look at: http://eatsleepworkrepeat.com/