UK – Modern working life sits in opposition to the creativity needed to succeed in jobs today, according to Bruce Daisley, vice-president of EMEA at Twitter, who also said turning off notifications is necessary to reduce work-related burnout.
During his keynote talk at MRS Impact 2019, Daisley said that the creativity needed to differentiate people as more industries are impacted by automation is under threat.
"In the last 15 years, work has been reinvented and largely subverted by us sleepwalking into a state of work that’s going to be incredibly damaging," Daisley said.
The jobs that computers won't be able to do are those requiring ingenuity and creativity, he added, so workplaces need to change to facilitate this. "The system we’ve created in workplace today is in complete opposition of that creativity jobs need to foster."
Daisley offered four pieces of advice for companies looking to build better working cultures and individuals looking to improve their relationship with their jobs.
Turn off notifications
Daisley argued this is necessary to redress the balance between us and technology and reduce burnout. "This is one of the biggest things you can do to liberate yourself. A third of British people think about work the moment they wake up," said Daisley. "Maybe we do our jobs best when we don’t think about work all the time and allow ourselves looseness of thought. Our brains often find creativity not in an overscheduled 80-hour week but rather in finding looseness."
He referenced screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, who claims he showers up to eight times a day because it is when he does his best creative thinking.
Reclaim your lunch break
Many Brits regularly eat lunch ‘al desko', but the science of the importance of breaks is clear, argued Daisley. "The worst time to find yourself in court is before lunch; you are more likely to be found guilty. Breaks refresh and re-energise us. Stepping away from your desk improves creativity and your bond with your team and improves your energy levels at the weekend."
Rethink your meetings
Companies should reduce the number of staff invited to meetings as adding more people to a meeting reduces the feeling of psychological safety – employees’ feeling that their boss will give them the benefit of the doubt that they acted with good intentions should they make a mistake.
Daisley said: "Psychological safety doesn’t scale with size. When we invite more people to a team meeting, we reduce the psychological safety. You are far more likely to be honest in your appraisal of what you need to do if there are less people in the meeting."
He referenced investment firm Bridgewater Association’s practice of using the webcams in their meeting rooms to record every meeting and keep them small. This avoids people feeling that they are missing out by not being invited to a meeting.
Invisible power of human synchronisation
Many companies are focusing their efforts on hot-desking, failing to realise that the best results happen when people work together, according to Daisley. Citing a study that measured the endorphin levels of rowers at Oxford University, that found those in synchrony could handle higher levels of pain than those who weren’t.
"A dark energy is created when we work in teamwork with the people around us. Face-to-face conversation activates it. Laughing with colleagues activates it. If we’re not careful, the things we’re eliminating from modern work are in service of us feeling more bonded."