The Power of Not Being At Your Desk

I have worked in some offices that take the mentality of the following: Face In Front of Computer = Employee is Working, and Face Not In Front of Computer = Employee is Not Working.  I find it archaic, and a little sad that in an age of balance, rising workplace autonomy and millennials that this culture is still common.

Being a marketing professional myself, I find it especially difficult to convince fellow co-workers otherwise.  I hate having to explain that just because I went for coffee with a former colleague, went to the gym for 30 minutes, or Tweeted doesn’t mean I’m not working.

When meeting with a former colleague, for example, I always start out with a question like “What are you up to lately?” proceeded by conversations about business and trends in different industries like technology, advertising, design and more.  How incredibly valuable!  I then bring these ideas and projects that he or she is working on back into my work and brainstorm how it could pertain to my industry.  If you haven’t done this process, try it this week – it will open your eyes, believe me.  If you need some inspiration but don’t have the contacts to meet this week, check out the book Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired By Nature by Janine M Benyus.  And oldie, but a goodie for sure.  It will give you some ideas of how people have looked at their surroundings, which at first glace have nothing to do with their direct work goals, then look deeper and differently at the surroundings to see possible applications or symbioses.

Let us not forgot that there are countless studies and books about exercise connected with productivity.  I would personally rather that all my employees do 30 minutes of yoga or running or squash a day to re-energize than try to force poor work out of them just to ‘be in front of the computer’. Find your stress release, and let it out my friend!  “Once you set the pace, the rest will follow,” from Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk about When I Talk About Running.

Lastly, my Twitter example.  If you’re in social media, and I recently read that 93% of marketers are, then you understand.  If not, I shall paint a picture for you: marketing is about trends – what is popular today might be a fad or a new industry tomorrow, especially online – and you need to know them to jump on them.  And sometimes you need to invent your own trends.  I’ve mostly seen this working with start-ups.  Coin a term, develop a new niche, or explore uncharted markets.  I constantly check social media channels like Twitter for changes in my city, my industry, my interests, my influencers and more – another great place for diversifying your mind and getting inspiration.

So please next time you see someone ‘missing from their desk’ please give them the benefit of the doubt and assume their only doing the best for themselves and their company.


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