You arrive at the office. You look smart and feel fresh (or maybe not, depending what kind of weekend it was) and by all accounts, you’re ready to take on the week.
Everything seems normal. But it’s not.
Somewhere between that sweet Sunday snooze and the week’s first laptop login, you’ve switched personas. You’re so used to doing it, you probably had no idea it even happened – but it definitely did. And it happens to the majority of us.
As clothes and timetables become more formal, our personalities follow suit. We swap ‘weekend mode’ for ‘work mode’, and you know what? It really isn’t doing us any favours.
Project: personality protection
When we’re at our least polished, pressured and penned in (i.e. weekends), that’s when we’re at our most creative, charismatic and capable. That’s when we’re at our best.
And yet day after day, year after year, we head to the office and leave that person at home.
Now before you think I’m suggesting we rock up to work three hours late, beer in hand, I’m not. Some aspects of work mode are good – we’ve trained ourselves to act appropriately Monday through Friday and there’s nothing wrong with that.
What I’m talking about is the impact work mode has on our personalities – the way it holds us back and puts us in a headspace that acts as great-idea kryptonite.
I’m interested in how work mode squashes the qualities that make us the happiest and could make us boundlessly better at business.
“We use jargon to prove we know what we’re talking about”
Where work mode goes wrong
As the working week kicks in, we feel compelled to live up to our titles and others’ expectations. We become conscious of what we’re saying and how we’re acting, and reluctant to take risks.
We use jargon to prove we know what we’re talking about (despite the fact it’s a bit wanky – no offence, but it really is) and to set ourselves apart from those who don’t. We tend to shy away from challenging more senior staff but can be all too quick to shout down those more junior. Stress puts us on edge, making us prone to nerves and anxiety. Fixed processes and boundaries crush our creativity.
Work mode isn’t much fun at all.
Bring your weekend to work life
So what would happen if we dumped the pretences, unclipped our wings and were just ourselves, like we are at weekends, but all the time?
I’ll tell you.
We’d level the playing field with colleagues and clients; become down-to-earth and relatable. We’d think more freely and act more surely. We’d have the freedom to spot opportunities and the balls to go off-piste to pursue them. We’d be in the perfect mindset to see simple solutions to complex issues and trust our instincts. We’d be more liberated and without a doubt, happier.
Think about how different you’d be in a pitch, meeting or as a public speaker; how your change of attitude would have a contagious effect on your team.
It’s not hard to imagine how weekend mode could transform your weekday life.
Practicing what I preach
The reason I’m such an advocate of people being their true selves at work is because I’ve experienced first hand the impact it has, and how it’s a state of mind that inspires amazing results.
Personally, I’ve always struggled to stop my (corporate-bullshit-averse) personality bursting through any kind of stereotypically professional façade. Weekend mode is the only mode I seem to have and to be honest, it’s got me in plenty of hot water over the years, not to mention earned me a fair few p45s (I used them all to wallpaper my downstairs toilet).
But I’ve recently realised that my inability to be anything other than myself has actually been my saving grace in a culture where very few feel able to. It’s made me memorable, intriguing and trustworthy (or so I’ve been told).
I’ll wear jeans in rooms full of penguin suits (despite stern emails warning me not to). I’ll scrap the script in a pitch so I can chat to people naturally and let conversations flow. I’ll care less about what I’m saying or doing and more about the connections I’m making. I’ll listen to understand rather than listening to reply.
I don’t do these things to stand out, impress or rebel; I do them because it’s how I act when I’m comfortable and at ease. It’s how I am at the weekend.
I’ve made a habit of going up against more polished, more professional and at times even more informed competitors, and winning because people liked me and found my approach refreshing.
At SMSW Media, we’ve made sure weekend mode is the only mode welcome because we believe there’s no better way to get the best out of the team. And the dynamic, output and results are all the proof I need that we’ve made the right decision.
The workday you is nowhere near as good at business as the real you.
So if your mojo does a disappearing act when Monday rolls round, it’s about time you let your weekend mode loose at the office and never look back.