“What do you do for eight hours in an office?” Apart from the challenges that joining a group like TÜV Rheinland brings, that was the question that occupied me most as a newcomer to the company seven years ago. Why?My CV is dominated by flexible project work and independent work at customer offices. I was a freelancer for the last few weeks before I joined the company, which meant that working in all kinds of places, including offices of course, was my permanent reality. As a mother of two kids, I had already experienced mobile working from the edge of the playground in the mid-90s. I would have been thrilled if tablets or smartphones had been available back then! Working full-time in the same office without interruption was strange for me at first.
Creative breaks clear your mind
Nevertheless, when it comes to everyday working life, most people are convinced that the best way to ensure performance is working at their desk in front of a computer, preferably without distractions and long breaks. Sure, this might work for pure data processing, but in an agile digital future, how many jobs and activities consist purely of handling information? Independence and flexibility – these are the cornerstones of New Work. This is also where the first inconsistencies with lasting performance on a PC begin to appear. Is this the best place for creative ideas? After all, everyone knows that the best problem-solving ideas materialize in the shower or when jogging in the woods. Breaks give us some much-needed distance from work, allow our bodies to relax and suddenly open our minds – an essential requirement for creativity. This means that more inflexible working hours are not conducive to greater productivity, as several different studies have shown.
Have a break – give your hands something to do
And this is where my washing machine finally comes into play. There is no denying that working flexibly (from home) is more productive than working in an office – for ergonomists at least. For me – and I’m sure I’m not alone – a little variety or a practical interruption from working on my computer also helps to keep me alert. This means that filling the washing machine has become a rewarding ritual when working from home. It gives my brain a break and my hands something to do. After getting some space, I can return to my laptop with a clear head. Now ideas can flow again and my creativity is restored.
Is the same true for you? I could do with a break now, so in the absence of a washing machine here in the office, I’m off to unload the dishwasher in our kitchenette!