The best ideas come when you least expect them, usually when you're relaxed and haven't been thinking about work too specifically.

We all know this is somewhat true at least, however now there is further evidence to back this up. A survey of 2000 workers revealed that the best ideas are often born at the pub, or at least that kind of atmosphere!


Over the years companies have tried to think of ways to encourage a more relaxed environment where ideas flow freely and often say that they give their employees room to make mistakes for example. In an effort to achieve the necessary freedom to nurture ideas, an open plan office probably in itself won't suffice. Employers need to take on a more radical approach. These kinds of attitude are indicative of a belief that feeling relaxed helps the mind to come up with new ideas.

The report from the survey showed a large number of workers claiming that working from home was often more productive than working at the office simply because of the increased freedom they felt. Some offices actually have in place systems which monitor your “personal time” that is the time you spend getting a drink and going to the toilet. Such Big Brother type practices often undermine the work of an individual and work against their productivity. Working from home means that you might have a “power hour” then take a twenty minute break before going back to work without worrying about having taken more than fifteen minutes in one sitting for example.

The research also indicated that people feel that they now spend a lot less time actually interacting with humans. Inventions such as skype and the ability to have virtual meetings mean that there is less and less reason to leave an office, particularly as this might cut costs, which is especially relevant at the moment. However, a lack of human interaction can lead to low mood and a lack of ideas in general.

The recession has increased the amount of people setting up ventures for themselves and these people often take full advantage of technology for meetings and networking. Ask an entrepreneur what they like most about their work and its likely that they will site freedom as one of those items. Entrepreneurs are known for their ideas and many of these are in fact born in a pub or similar kind of environment. Of course an employer is not going to encourage its employees to go for a pint but they need to understand the value of introducing some flexibility into their work practices if they want to harness the talent of their individuals more effectively.

Last week, the Office of National Statistics showed that British workers work some of the longest hours in Europe. There needs to be a culture shift when it comes to hours worked versus productivity. Flexibility can often lead to a more productive and happier workforce, therefore more efforts should be placed on enabling flexible working patterns and methods than on what hours are worked.

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