A theory persists in ad agencies that to do the best work, you have to work longer and harder than other people. So the pressure is often on for creatives to burn the midnight oil, work weekends and generally spend all of their waking hours at the coal face.
It's not the case everywhere, one agency that I worked at for a bit had a definite lean towards not encouraging people to work through lunch or late (and they had a good creative reputation at the time). That said though, they once forced us to go in on a Saturday for no particular reason, which didn't go down well. But there are those places around town that have a reputation for making people work long hours and weekends. And some of these do have good creative reputations. Do the two things go hand-in-hand?
I don't think so. Okay, I do know genuinely good people who are in the habit of working long and hard. But I've also known plenty of people who worked really long hours who never came up with anything great. Then there are the ones who never seem to be around, or working, but who always come up with something great. (We'll ignore the very last category - those who don't work long and hard, and don't come up up with anything good - because they don't last very long anyway.)
I don't see any definite correlation between hours spent and the quality of the work. Over here we take coming up with creative ideas very, very seriously, seriously enough to know not to take it too seriously.
If you push people too hard, too long, it has the opposite to the desired effect. People think differently (not in a good way) when put under too much pressure, or worked too hard. You are more focused on doing something than on allowing yourself to find things. It narrows the mind.
I think you need a freewheeling, uninhibited mind to come up with good stuff. Sometimes you have to really work hard through something, really apply yourself. But equally it can mean allowing yourself the freedom to get away from the desk.
We like to keep it relaxed and fun at Sell! Towers, and we don't want people staying late or working weekends (we've only worked one weekend day in six years). I'd rather a brief was in someone's mind while they were getting on with enjoying and experiencing life, than forcing them to sit in a room all weekend trying to crack it. I'm certain it's not the only way of getting great stuff, but it works out well for us, and I believe in it way more than the battery hen, beating-with-a-stick approach.
I'm interested to know what you think though, dear reader. Does more pressure and longer hours work out better for you? Do you think great work is linked to working longer and harder?
Have a great weekend!