Work vacations — secret ingredient to creative solutions?

I’m writing this article from a cafe in Melbourne, Australia. The past hour has been the most productive I’ve been in the past few months. I edited a blog post, configured my SaaS product, read a few useful articles and still have the motivation to write this article.

I feel good. I feel productive. I’ve done some work.

Usually…

I return home on most weekdays feeling tired but so unproductive. Tired because I’ve done a lot but unproductive because I’ve not really done anything.

I go to office, yes. I go to a lot of meetings, yes. I’m always busy but I just never get anything done. It is really hard to get that 1 hour of uninterrupted time at workplace.

I listened to Jason Fried’s TED talk on Why work doesn’t happen at work and it validated my thought process. Here’s my favorite excerpt from the talk.

I’ve been asking people this question for about 10 years: “Where do you go when you really need to get something done?” You almost never hear someone say, “The office.” This was my trigger to rant on LinkedIn on why I get annoyed at the office. Over the past year, I’ve learnt how to work through that and one of the things that I do often is to find a quiet spot in office and hide from civilisation.

I tried to do work from home but that turned out to be even more disruptive.

When I went to another country, I wanted to work My organisation sent me to our London office to work from there for a while. I stayed at the heart of the city, very close to all the touristy stuff but I was never tempted to do any of that. I was tempted to work. The setting was beautiful. London is a beautiful city and there were loads of cafes with free WiFi where I can sit for hours, uninterrupted. My usual routine on weekends in London is just to go sit at the hotel lounge and work. It was blissful.

I came back home after my stint and I was busy again. Busy not getting anything done. I wanted to take a vacation, not for sightseeing or chilling but to work.

It’s not such a crazy thought

We’ve automated most of our monotonous work to computers and humans are just tasked with bringing creative ideas to life. It could be the new marketing strategy, the new framework for your team or anything under the sun that needs your brain to be very comfortable.

I found that when I was alone in a different country. I found enough uninterrupted time to bring any idea to life and I had no limits. I had no meeting to get to. I didn’t worry about the last train back home. I was just focused.

It’s not really enough for organisations to give problems that their employees should solve. It’s also important for them to create conducive environments. Try that and maybe, just maybe, you might have landed a solution that’s 10x better than what you usually get in a close knit boring office space.

This would be a brilliant way to incentivise employees and give them a push to come up with creative solutions. New places inspire new ideas and I’m pretty sure they’d love the chance to just travel and work out of cafes in Europe or beaches at Bali.

I’m done with my article. I’ve sat here at Assembly for the past 90 minutes finishing up a days worth of work. I’m still determined. Melbourne is a beautiful city and it’s a sunny day. I saw a park on the way here and I’m going to sit there this afternoon to get some more work done.

P.S If you are in a position to implement such a policy in your org but think this is a crazy thought, you should at least let them work out of cafes in your own city.