• Alice Chachka

Does working 9 to 5 really help creative thinking?

Updated: Sep 1, 2018

Whilst interning at one of the London's leading creative agencies, I have realised how difficult it is for a creative person to stay uplifted, generate unique ideas, as well as stay late to finish work, whilst having to spend most of your day sitting behind your desk. When I just started working in an agency, I was getting extremely tired every day to the point where I’ve been drinking 4 coffees per day and that did not even help. And I doubt that I am the only one who’s been struggling with the same issue. Like any other job, being a designer is tiring, the work comprises a mix of applying automated skills and doing a lot of thinking, whilst rarely changing your body position during the day.

And I am not talking just about the office work that one might do – as a designer, especially at a junior level, you might need to work on other projects after work. You might freelance, you might be taking a short course or doing a self-initiated project. It is tough when you have to work after you’ve just returned from work.

–How are you?

–I’m alright, thank you. Just a bit tired.

–Have you been up to much last evening?

–I’ve been at home working.

–Have you been working on agency stuff?

–No, I need to finish some personal and freelance projects I’ve taken up.

–Oh really?

This has been an approximate chat with a collegue I’ve been getting in the mornings whilst making a cup of coffee in the kitchen.

But I’ve been wondering… Am I really the only one designer in the room who works after work?

I have realized that working in the office is not joyful enough if you are not given freedom to come in later, if you need to, to have a quite space where you can work for a while or being able to take a random day off. Just because. Just because you need to recharge, and, sometimes, the 2 of the weekend days just don’t help.

Later on, I’ve started working at another agency, and I was very surprised about how much they overwork every day. So many designers stay ridiculously long hours after work and barely even spend half an hour on lunch. Unlike my previous work place, they barely went out in groups to eat outside the office, neither did they have specially designated lunch spots in the studio.

I have often been feeling guilty because of the fact that I’m too tired or simply don’t have as much work to finish in a day as other designers or have to be somewhere after work, because of how many people stay after the working day is over.

And this kind of work ethic just does not sound quite right to me. I don’t think one should regularly stay late after work without even getting paid for it and being so busy during the day they can’t take a whole hour off to get outside.

That has made me think more seriously about aiming to become a demanded freelancer in the future – the flexibility seems to be just too appealing.

However, I find this to be a good trigger to start thinking more about the ‘future agency’. How could the working life of designer be improved and, moreover, can I start an agency that has more of that work / life balance and focuses more on maintaining the creative mindset?

I think it is important that we all try and understand each other in terms of work load and rest and try to maintain a healthy work-life balance at work. Because, if it’s just work… What kind of life is that then?

© 2020 by Alice Chachka