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Why the Value of Creativity Is Decreasing

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Why the Value of Creativity Is Decreasing

The modern world provides seemingly endless opportunities for entertainment, distraction and the automation of some of the more mindless tasks that our forebears would have spent their time on. In theory, 21st-century life should be packed with output from people whose minds have been freed to think, imagine and create, but is that what we are seeing? Well, no, it’s not.

We often see attempts of minimising risks in creative industries these days.

What we are seeing is endless re-hashing of the same ideas: sequels, prequels, remakes and re-imaginings abound, and the mainstream arts have narrowed to the point where film studios and record labels seem to be putting out very slightly altered versions of the same films and songs over and over again. Books that are particularly popular are made into films, and Hollywood casts tried-and-tested A-listers into leading roles whether or not they fit the part, simply in an attempt to guarantee a good turnout at the box office.

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The film industry will only invest in scripts which follow an established format; record labels want bands to have a proven audience before offering them a record deal, and publishers want authors with a track-record of making the best-seller lists. Creative talent is secondary to the ability to market oneself and artistic ability is dwarfed by the overwhelming desire of big business to minimise their risks and stick with the familiar.[1]

The most important thing to individuals has been changed.

Where big corporations fear to tread, however, the individual apparently rushes in. With more than 60% of workers stating[2] that they value happiness over financial gain when it comes to their jobs, it appears that a pleasant working environment has a value that a pay-packet simply can’t match. All over the country, people are placing good friendships ahead of their incomes and are more motivated by the idea of going out for drinks and spending time with colleagues that they get along with than they are by earning more.

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Ironically, we are often tied to our phones and not freeing our minds to think and ponder.

However, those same individuals are struggling to free themselves from the tyranny of the hand-held devices which are packed with distractions and diversions which pull their attention away from connecting with the people whose company they crave. With the ability to do almost anything on a piece of technology which you have in your pocket all day, comes the inability to enjoy genuine experiences, to allow our minds to wander, to experience the moments that inevitably pass you by when you are glued to the latest game on your phone.

The Big Brother’s impact is also limiting our creativity.

Alongside risk aversion on the part of the major players in the creative industries, the increasing availability of apps providing constant distraction from reality, and the internal conflicts inherent in human interactions, we also have to contend with attempts by the government to limit our freedom. With many believing that common sense is being eroded and replaced by increasingly restrictive legislation, the impact on the individual’s ability to act autonomously is potentially devastating.

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But the ponderously slow speed at which the legislature moves has, time and time again, proved that legal solutions to social problems are an inefficient way of dealing with the issues that modern life throws in our path. Take the example of vaping – many believe that e-cigarettes should be classified in the same way as tobacco, and therefore should be banned wherever smoking is. However, those who have chosen e-cigarettes as a healthier alternative to traditional smoking believe[3] that promoting a smoking alternative which doesn’t have a damaging effect on their health should be a priority. Waiting for government to collect the data, take advice and make a decision on whether to introduce laws which classify vaping could take so long that by the time they are introduced, a balance has been found that the majority are happy with.

Although society is killing creativity, there are still opportunities to retain it.

Modern society is made up of individuals who rarely have a quiet moment to examine their own thoughts and feelings, but who prioritise friendship over money, operating in an environment in which billion-pound organisations attempt to manipulate them into conforming. Creativity may struggle to penetrate the cynical profiteering that we have all become accustomed to, but as long as individuals can appreciate the value of originality and authenticity, there is hope that those qualities will retain their value.

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Featured photo credit: Femsplain via femsplain.com

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James Timpson

Marketeer

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Published on September 21, 2021

How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

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How Remote Work Affects Your Productivity And Wellbeing (Backed By Data)

The internet is flooded with articles about remote work and its benefits or drawbacks. But in reality, the remote work experience is so subjective that it’s impossible to draw general conclusions and issue one-size-fits-all advice about it. However, one thing that’s universal and rock-solid is data. Data-backed findings and research about remote work productivity give us a clear picture of how our workdays have changed and how work from home affects us—because data doesn’t lie.

In this article, we’ll look at three decisive findings from a recent data study and two survey reports concerning remote work productivity and worker well-being.

1. We Take Less Frequent Breaks

Your home can be a peaceful or a distracting place depending on your living and family conditions. While some of us might find it hard to focus amidst the sounds of our everyday life, other people will tell you that the peace and quiet while working from home (WFH) is a major productivity booster. Then there are those who find it hard to take proper breaks at home and switch off at the end of the workday.

But what does data say about remote work productivity? Do we work more or less in a remote setting?

Let’s take a step back to pre-pandemic times (2014, to be exact) when a time tracking application called DeskTime discovered that 10% of most productive people work for 52 minutes and then take a break for 17 minutes.

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Recently, the same time tracking app repeated that study to reveal working and breaking patterns during the pandemic. They found that remote work has caused an increase in time worked, with the most productive people now working for 112 minutes and breaking for 26 minutes.[1]

Now, this may seem rather innocent at first—so what if we work for extended periods of time as long as we also take longer breaks? But let’s take a closer look at this proportion.

While breaks have become only nine minutes longer, work sprints have more than doubled. That’s nearly two hours of work, meaning that the most hard-working people only take three to four breaks per 8-hour workday. This discovery makes us question if working from home (WFH) really is as good a thing for our well-being as we thought it was. In addition, in the WFH format, breaks are no longer a treat but rather a time to squeeze in a chore or help children with schoolwork.

Online meetings are among the main reasons for less frequent breaks. Pre-pandemic meetings meant going to another room, stretching your legs, and giving your eyes a rest from the computer. In a remote setting, all meetings happen on screen, sometimes back-to-back, which could be one of the main factors explaining the longer work hours recorded.

2. We Face a Higher Risk of Burnout

At first, many were optimistic about remote work’s benefits in terms of work-life balance as we save time on commuting and have more time to spend with family—at least in theory. But for many people, this was quickly counterbalanced by a struggle to separate their work and personal lives. Buffer’s 2021 survey for the State of Remote Work report found that the biggest struggle of remote workers is not being able to unplug, with collaboration difficulties and loneliness sharing second place.[2]

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Buffer’s respondents were also asked if they are working more or less since their shift to remote work, and 45 percent admitted to working more. Forty-two percent said they are working the same amount, while 13 percent responded that they are working less.

Longer work hours and fewer quality breaks can dramatically affect our health, as long-term sitting and computer use can cause eye strain, mental fatigue, and other issues. These, in turn, can lead to more severe consequences, such as burnout and heart disease.

Let’s have a closer look at the connection between burnout and remote work.

McKinsey’s report about the Future of work states that 49% of people say they’re feeling some symptoms of burnout.[3] And that may be an understatement since employees experiencing burnout are less likely to respond to survey requests and may have even left the workforce.

From the viewpoint of the employer, remote workers may seem like they are more productive and working longer hours. However, managers must be aware of the risks associated with increased employee anxiety. Otherwise, the productivity gains won’t be long-lasting. It’s no secret that prolonged anxiety can reduce job satisfaction, decrease work performance, and negatively affect interpersonal relationships with colleagues.[4]

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3. Despite everything, We Love Remote Work

An overwhelming majority—97 percent—of Buffer report’s survey respondents say they would like to continue working remotely to some extent. The two main benefits mentioned by the respondents are the ability to have a flexible schedule and the flexibility to work from anywhere.

McKinsey’s report found that more than half of employees would like their workplace to adopt a more flexible hybrid virtual-working model, with some days of work on-premises and some days working remotely. To be more exact, more than half of employees report that they would like at least three work-from-home days a week once the pandemic is over.

Companies will increasingly be forced to find ways to satisfy these workforce demands while implementing policies to minimize the risks associated with overworking and burnout. Smart companies will embrace this new trend and realize that adopting hybrid models can also be a win for them—for example, for accessing talent in different locations and at a lower cost.

Remote Work: Blessing or Plight?

Understandably, workers worldwide are tempted to keep the good work-life aspects that have come out of the pandemic—professional flexibility, fewer commutes, and extra time with family. But with the once strict boundaries between work and life fading, we must remain cautious. We try to squeeze in house chores during breaks. We do online meetings from the kitchen or the same couch we watch TV shows from, and many of us report difficulties switching off after work.

So, how do we keep our private and professional lives from hopelessly blending together?

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The answer is that we try to replicate the physical and virtual boundaries that come naturally in an office setting. This doesn’t only mean having a dedicated workspace but also tracking your work time and stopping when your working hours are finished. In addition, it means working breaks into your schedule because watercooler chats don’t just naturally happen at home.

If necessary, we need to introduce new rituals that resemble a normal office day—for example, going for a walk around the block in the morning to simulate “arriving at work.” Remote work is here to stay. If we want to enjoy the advantages it offers, then we need to learn how to cope with the personal challenges that come with it.

Learn how to stay productive while working remotely with these tips: How to Work From Home: 10 Tips to Stay Productive

Featured photo credit: Jenny Ueberberg via unsplash.com

Reference

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