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We realised there were a number of things that weren't working. So we changed what we were doing.
It's a ONETOO philosophy of work.
Late in 2019, we realised we had a problem. The problem was, we were busy — really busy. And it wasn't just because we had lots of work to do. There was something deeper going on, something that took a little bit of a break to bring perspective to how we approached what we did.
During our break, we stopped working. Perhaps obvious, but from conversations among peers, it's a rarity. We ignored emails. Removed our social media accounts. In other words, we turned off the 'addictions', the things that kept pulling us back to work and continued to keep us wired to respond at all times, night and day.
During this time, guided by a few books, it became clear the way our work was being conducted was unsustainable. The pressure of busyness we felt, had a lot to do with how we were actually doing the work we were doing. It then dawned on us, that maybe we need to start experimenting with how we actually do what we do.
Many think working productively and efficiently is self-evident. I really believe despite all the talk, most people aren't really doing any of what I've mentioned. Part of the problem is our always-connected approach to how we work in the 21st century. We tend to fall into a belief that all technology is good, and more technology is better. Always.
But I wonder if this is not the case. You could make the argument that technology has always been central to what makes humans, humans. Fire, the wheel, early tools. Yet it's also true, that we are human beings, not machines. We have a biology that has needs. Food. Water. And rest. We're also wired to change our environment, to think deeply, and have perspective. Dogs are not aware of metaphysics, at least I'm not aware of any dogs who contemplate the meaning of 'being'.
The point being, technology is good but biology is also good. As much as I need to embrace my potential, where are the stories about embracing my limitations? "I can't do that, I only have 24 hours in a day." "I'd love to work on this new project on Saturday, it sounds amazing, but I actually need to rest, to sleep and enjoy family time."
We're well aware of our potential, but maybe our limitations are a lot hazier in our mind's eye.
After much discussion and reflection, we're changing how we think about the four-letter word, W-O-R-K, and doing our best to make sure that what we value becomes our reality. Why are we doing this? If we're going to do all we're called to, it means doing it sustainably. It means work should be a place of both joy, and challenge, a place where you get to be fully human — with limitations and potential.
These things are values too, not just ideas, but values are really ideas that impact how you do what you do. For our team, what does this mean?
A New Depth:
In short, Deep Work by Cal Newport. At length, we are made to do deep things, but in our highly distracted and hyper-connected world, doing deep, important and sustained tasks is something that exists out there, but very rarely visits our daily living. For a creative agency, the best work comes out of places of concentration and deliberate attention to solve real problems in new and nuanced ways. We won't change the world checking Instagram every 10 minutes. So, it means we schedule depth into our calendar and create routine and rhythm. Four hours each day of depth. No email. No phones. Yes, turn your phone off! No yelling across the room (my introverted side loves it). We'll likely find it uncomfortable at first, but will allow us to be fully present in our own tasks, with people when needed, and not feel as if we can't engage because we have things to do.
Being creative is fun. Answering endless emails is not. Often coming up with new concepts means going for walks, seeing new environments and trying things that have never been done. This will never happen unless you actually value it, and make time for it in your day. So that's what we're doing. Space for spontaneous play. Space and time where we can collaborate, and riff of each other and the ideas coming forth. It's not like we're about to create some type of Google office, but we're designing play and collaboration right into the middle of how we actually do work. If our work isn't collaborative, playful and fun, that's not the kind of work we want to do.
One thing that's always been clear since we started ONETOO is we value people, and relationships. We've always felt a bit odd with this when compared to other businesses that report valuing excellence, strategy, awards, and all the things you'd expect. Our values are not something to make us sound fancy, they're actually what we really care about. Things you believe in should change what and how you do things each and every day. Practically, it means times of deliberate connection throughout the day. Time to share our problems, to celebrate and be together. Whether it's our daily report. A shared lunch break. Or a bit of problem-solving. This rhythm is designed to instil and value relationships, as well as help each of us develop relational skills within work and life.
Work is something we spend a lot of our time doing. It's important we build rhythm into our schedule for joy, and fun. To disconnect and debrief. This might be going to the gym, taking a walk, swimming or grabbing a drink. Start the day with joy, and finish it with joy. Finish it, and leave it at work — don't let it follow you home.