In Defense of the 9-to-5 Workplace

Or Why I Can't Run a Sweat(suit) Shop

By Published on .

Lorenzo Romero Lorenzo Romero
I am sure that many of us as kids thought we would never want to dress up in a suit and tie and be married to a desk from 9 to 5 every day. As creatives, we crave something different, something adventurous -- something that allows our minds to flourish and, well, be creative. And yet, here we all are, having long since ditched the Birkenstocks, sporting dry-clean-only slacks and toting satchels made from oiled leather. Have we sold out?

I've heard some stories from shops around the country regarding their mode of operation and frankly I'm a bit confused at how some agencies ever get anything done! Apparently, there are some successful shops who let the employees work at any time (or not work at any time) or allow "creative rendezvous" to gather inspiration from outside of the "stifling" work environment. I think some people spend more time playing than working.

I have to admit, I have taken our team on some creative excursions. But come on, people, there has to be a limit! Bring Your Own Beer parties every Friday? I can't do it! Even the persistent use of Instant Messenger and e-mails sends me over the edge. I feel like I'm paying my employees to catch up with their chums on Recently, the news reported that businesses across the country are collectively paying employees in the millions and billions of dollars to essentially instant message.

I'm kind of speaking tongue-in-cheek. It is vital to have a work environment that is encouraging to productivity. I think great work should definitely exude from your space. It's part of your brand. It shows your employees you care about them and want them to enjoy where they spend so much of their time. It is good for business. It will make your employees more productive, and will make the good ones want to stay.

Conversely, we are also here to do business. And we do business with businesses. The business world works 9 to 5, so like it or not, we have to be readily available for existing and potential clients during these hours. I don't mean a marketer's ability to e-mail your company or leave a voicemail. I'm talking about having well-informed actual humans on hand to provide information to clients -- to tell them what they want to know when they need to know it. Imagine the missed opportunity, even if just once, that results when there's no one there to pick up the phone.

Have I sold out and become a "suit"? I hate to think that I have, but I just cannot figure out how to really be efficient and effective when my art director doesn't work the same hours as my account executive. I think the beauty and strength of collaborating on a project together far outweighs a flex-time mentality. And come on, they don't call it "work" for nothing!

Maybe if I could just get out to the golf course more, I would start thinking a little more clearly. Maybe if I could empty my in-box of my e-mail, I would be more productive. Maybe if I could just wait until Friday, and one of my employees could bring me a beer. Maybe ...
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