Let Creatives Breathe!
There were 866,000 creative people working in UK non-creative industries in 2012 according to the Department for Media, Culture, and Sport. A number set to rise as more companies strive to conquer the increasing demand for high quality content over old-school linkbuilding techniques.
This probably means that there are thousands of creatives feeling suffocated and demotivated in their job at this very moment. Why? Because a traditional office environment and the average working culture is just not built for creatives. And it’s not just the corporate companies that are the culprits here, there are reams of ‘creative agencies’ that just throw a pool table in the mix and splash their walls with graffiti and expect that to be enough. Well… it isn’t.
Who are these creatives you speak of?
I recently read an enlightening article on the subject of creative people entitled ‘18 Things Highly Creative People do Differently’. The author, Carolyn Gregoire, truly captured the mind and thought process of a creative, explaining that psychologically speaking, creatives are complex, paradoxical and tend to avoid habit or routine. A psychologist at New York University, Scott Barry Kaufman, said:
It’s actually hard for creative people to know themselves because the creative self is more complex than the non-creative self… Imaginative people have messier minds.”
Personally, when I am creating I am vulnerable. This means that I lift any guard that is needed to survive a typical corporate environment and the office politics that comes with it. I am more sensitive to negative surroundings. No matter the subject, writing and creating is a personal and emotional process. I also tend to challenge people by asking ‘why’. In that sense, I guess I am also a boat rocker, always striving to understand, connect and find a solution.
But I want to reiterate here that it isn’t just creatives that need the room to breathe – we all crave freedom and development. Not only that, more and more of us are aware that there is no longer security in permanent employment. We are increasingly seeking independence and learning to become self-sufficient – so employers, you will suffer down the line if you don’t take notice of this shift now.
It’s time to embrace change
I have been passionate about the subject of working environments for creatives for a very long time, having experienced alienation from my peers over the years for pushing traditional boundaries and trying to encourage innovation. I often get hired to ‘shake things up’ and when I deliver on that promise all hell breaks lose! Panic… fear… “we didn’t think you would actually do it!”. Change scares the hell out of business owners and directors who are stuck in a rut and comfortable with a business model that is severely out of date.
The fact is, there is a growing need for innovative thinking and creative content and it is not going away. Writers, designers, social marketers… you name it. They are necessary and any business that doesn’t have a content marketing strategy is going to be left behind. In particular, digital marketing or SEO agencies have been used to surviving without creatives or suffocating any talent they do have in-house and wondering why they are not happy. The need for quality content comes with the need to adapt for individuals with the talent and creative flair to write, design or develop it. Sadly, clocking in and out in a static frame of time, sharing ‘head down’ high pressured environments and working to rigid agency timer based programmes are all soul destroying to a creative.
Down with corporate environments!
Shut up and do it, or JFDI (just f’ing do it) is dead and, in my opinion, it should never have been alive! Motivate, inspire, encourage and develop your staff. Allow them to live and breathe while they work, after all they spend most of their lives in the office.
If you refuse to provide your employees with flexible working and don’t address any issues in the working environment, creative or not – they will either move on to a company that will deliver or go freelance.
Worried about the impact of flexible working on your business? The resulting staff turnover and downward spiral of attracting less and less talent, will be a lot more costly than enabling your staff to just breathe a little.
So, what are you going to do about it?
I now turn my attention to anyone reading this with the power to make this change. Wake up! It is only by embracing the need for creativity that you will be able to keep up and get the best out of your creative employees.
Like a butterfly in a box, creatives, or humans for that matter, simply can’t fly in a stuffy and restrictive environment. If you want quality content then adapt and allow your creatives to breathe:
Create a space that we can work in away from any colleagues with moody tendencies.
Give us the flexibility to work the hours when we are most energised and productive.
Allow us to be inspired and trust us to create content that connects with your audience.
Most of all, accept us for who we are.
In return you will get the awesome content that speaks to your audience. That drives more traffic to your website and ultimately gets you more business.
If adapting the working environment and providing flexible working seems like a tall order for your business, there are plenty of freelancers with the creative freedom and talent to draw from, which is why I created collaborative creative network – ALT-MU Creative. The aim is to provide small businesses and entrepreneurs with a source of quality content from a pool of talented and inspired creatives. If you want to join the network or find out more please get in touch.