Thought Leadership

Head space: Why taking time out of the business makes you more creative in it

Written by the Editorial Team

Britain is synonymous with having a long working hours culture. But research shows that this is not only having a detrimental impact on our ability to create sound business ideas that can make our organisation’s more competitive, it is making us unproductive too.

A recent study carried out by the Institute of Directors and Land Rover, in conjunction with the renowned occupational psychologist Professor Sir Cary Cooper, found that almost half (48%) of all business leaders are at their most creative when they are at home or on the move (18%). Just 3% said they were most creative while at the office.

Of the 900 UK, US and China business leaders who took part in the study, 64% of respondents stated that ‘Being comfortable’ was the most important condition for creative thought, followed by

‘Having time to think’ (61%) and ‘Not feeling stressed’ (41%).

However, when asked ‘While on the move, what work do you actually do most of?’, 40% of business leaders put ‘creative thinking’ top but ‘catching up on emails’ ranked a close second at 39%.

Professor Cooper said: “The trend is for bosses to almost feel they need to justify their large salaries by being available 24/7, when the justification should be the value they add to their business.”

Indeed, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) published the results of a report that looked at the number of hours worked against the productivity of nations. They found that the fewer the number of hours worked, the more productive a nation or organisation – becomes. Of the G7 nations, the UK is ranked…you guessed it…seventh.

In contrast, the nation that has the lowest number of hours during the working week (35 hours) is also the strongest both economically and in terms of productivity – that country being Germany.

“Companies don’t think about creative space,” says Professor Cooper. But “they need it to unwind…to de-stress, to think and to be creative.”

Executives, he says, are focusing too much of their time fire fighting and replying to emails rather than focusing on the next great idea.

We see this all too often. Many of the clients we speak to have wanted to do PR for some time.

But because their focus was increasingly being spent working in rather than on their business, PR was put on the back-burner until they could afford some ‘thinking time.’

Trouble is that as your business grows so does the pressure to maintain that resolute focus, and it isn’t until you raise your head above the parapet and see what your competition is doing with their PR before the need to take action becomes less of a nice-to-have and more of a must-have…now.