Sam Britton .JPG

Work to live. Don't live to work.

I was saddened recently when I read the following article:

http://www.adweek.com/agencyspy/internal-memo-tbwachiatday-new-york-ceo-never-bought-into-the-whole-work-life-balance-thing/131213

It centres on an all-agency memo sent by TBWA\Chiat\Day New York’s Rob Schwartz where he states that he’s never bought into the ‘whole work-life balance thing’ after a creative team gave up a bachelor weekend away to work on an unspecified pitch.

In the memo Rob notes “This is a decision each and every one of us has to make. Work or other stuff?”

Other stuff! That ‘stuff’ is life. You know, the thing that happens when you’re not paying attention, or too busy to take part in.

That’s just sad.

Schwartz also says whilst missing out on the unimportant ‘stuff’ you might also stumble upon an idea; “An idea that makes a dent in the universe.”

Please. We aren’t talking about curing cancer here.

And who says that ideas can’t come when you’re not physically in the office? Isn’t the idea that we should all sit in a room all weekend, trying to force ideas a bit dated?

If you’re passionate about what you do, and you’re lucky enough to work at an agency that supports you actually having a life outside of work, your brain never switches off anyway.

Maybe a weekend at a bachelor party, being surrounded by the people and things that make you the best version of you, would have resulted in an even better idea? With that attitude, you’ll never know.

I’ve worked in agencies since leaving University five years ago. I love the energy of agency life, the passion, the creativity and most of all the can-do attitude of almost everyone I’ve worked with over the past half-decade.

We work in a fast-paced and sometimes unforgiving industry with tight deadlines and demanding projects that do require a lot of your time. In the past I have been criticised for trying to leave at a respectable hour. Trying not to check emails out of hours. For valuing my home life. Even now, I can feel myself wanting to defend my point of view.

Why?

This week our MD sent out an all-staff memo and it couldn’t have been more different to Schwartz’. It detailed our taking part in the ‘Time to Change’ initiative to help combat Mental Health issues, in both our personal and professional lives. Something one in four people will face in their lifetime.

This could not have been more timely. The pressure of an increasingly demanding work culture in the UK is perhaps the biggest and most pressing challenge to the mental health of the general population.

And this is not going unnoticed by job seekers. A recruitment consultancy we recently met with said, for the first time ever, the number one priority for job-seekers is flexibility, not salary.

I count myself as one of the lucky ones. Don’t get me wrong, I have spent the odd weekend working but not at the detriment of stuff that “in the grand scheme of things you won’t miss much”.

Connect really do value their people. It’s at the heart of their culture. They embrace change, value equality and celebrate diversity. Something that I will never take for granted.

My dad has always been a big influence on me and one thing I will never forget him saying to me on this subject was simply; “Work to live. Don’t live to work.”

Wise words. Maybe Rob Schwartz should take heed.

Sam Britton, Account Manager