Ideas from in-house? How does creativity in an office even work?

office view

From time to time, I am offered a job. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that someone would wish to have me in their office on a full-time, permanent basis. But it happens at least once a month now. It’s getting worrying.

This strange phenomenon happens despite me clearly stating on sites such as LinkedIn that I really do not want a ‘real’ job. The salaries are not bad either. Usually.

But, apart from a pathological hatred of being tied to just one job and to office hours, I really do not see how anyone could get value out of me in a full-time job. To quote someone or other, I tried it once and didn’t like it. I’m not dismissing those who work in offices as such, but I don’t see how great ideas can solely come from in-house.

I have certainly flourished in short-term contracts in other people’s offices, but never with a boss, a contract and an annual season ticket. I am a freelance creative person at heart. I lose interest, I don’t buy in to most workplace cultures and I detest the idea of being subjected to other people’s choice of radio station or music, for life.

Now, this may just be down to my own character, but I truly wonder how any truly creative person can thrive in an office environment for any length of time. How do you have good ideas on the clock? And how do you muster up enthusiasm for the novel when you are three years in and have meetings to attend?

For most jobs, it makes more sense to hire in ideas people and (the best) writers as you need them.

Creators of ideas need to wander about, have a pint at 3pm on a Tuesday, sit by a river, go abroad, compile a best of Bowie playlist, take some pictures and have a day out at the seaside eating chips and playing in penny arcades. Not many employers will put up with that.

We’re flighty, but brilliant.

Our best thinking often happens while our brain and our hands are distracted elsewhere. It doesn’t happen in a meeting room every Tuesday at 10am sharp. It happens in the shower, playing PlayStation, strumming a guitar, at the theatre or strolling around a museum or gallery.

We need distraction, not direction. Though that is not to say that we can’t be inspired by the odd meeting, brainstorm or round table. We still need to bounce ideas around.

But if you put us in an office then we’ll have our best ideas on holiday. After all, you wouldn’t expect to see your favourite novelists sitting in a cubicle from 9-5, or grabbing a Pret sandwich at their desk to impress their boss with their presenteeism.

I would prefer not to.

We’re free range. We need to breathe. We’re often a little odd.

So, don’t fence us in. You’ll get better work, at a lower cost. And we can go to the park.

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