Monday, March 14, 2016
Last week I had one of those mystical media moments.
You know the ones. You read a headline on an article. You're sucked in by its intriguing content. You comb through the entire piece, thinking "this is too good to be true'. So you check the identity of the publisher. See that's it's a satirical site. Slam your fist on the desk and realize, "yes, I've been fooled again, a victim of my own gullibility and the Internet's surprising ability to make even the most amateurish journalism appear legit."
That almost happened to me.
But then, it didn't.
Weiden & Kennedy in London shocked the agency world when they announced their efforts to give their employees a better work/life balance. This of course is a misnomer because if you work a staff job in advertising, the balance is more accurately described by work/self-loathing.
Nevertheless, they revealed their plan to ban meetings before 10 AM as well as after 4:00 PM. They've also instructed workers to stop reading emails past 7 PM.
As you know, I'm a card-carrying member of the United Jeopardy Watchers, Local #537. And have long advocated the reinstatement of normal business hours.
I'm a firm believer that you will not get any good ideas out of me past 5PM. And keeping me late tonight only reduces my alleged 'productivity' for tomorrow.
In fact, I believe I've broached this topic many times in the past, including Blog Posts: # 391, #407, # 482, # 631, # 741, #883, #1146, #1290, #1291, #1292, #1293, #1347, and # 1474.
The narcissist in me wants to believe that yes. Finally. People are listening to this old goat.
I've stood on this homemade soapbox and railed against the abuses dished out daily by a merciless world and now my whiny, grumpy voice is being heard. If all goes according to plan, it won't be long before we see the end of the Open Office Plan. Or the endless battalions of Planners. Planners. And more Planners.
As Jimmy McGill of Better Call Saul would say, "The headline here is: 44-Year Old Curmudgeon Sparks the Return of Common Sense."
The realist in me must always smack the narcissist upside the head, reminding him that if anyone were actually listening, Round Seventeen might actually turn a dime and earn enough money for at least a scone and latte at a local Starbucks. But it hasn't.
What's happening, and I like to believe this is widespread, is that ad agencies have unexpectedly unearthed the Law of Diminishing Returns.
Here are a few axioms of the LDR:
The more overtime your employees put in,
the less the quality of their output.
The more people involved in a decision,
the less the likelihood of making a good one.
The more weekends you steal from your people,
the less the probability you have of seeing those same people at the year end Christmas Party.
I hope the pendulum is swinging the other way. In the direction of agencies treating their employees more humanely. By being more efficient. By learning to say "No" to abusive clients. And by respecting the boundaries between work and life.
Particularly since, despite my best attempts to dissuade her, my daughter has recently expressed an interest in the advertising agency world.
I might just take her away her car keys. Or compel her to read this blog from top to bottom.