Mar 03, 2020

Marc Nohr On Why Cutting Hours Increases Creativity

Marc Nohr is starting to make quite the name for himself following his recent inclusion in the Timewise Power 50 list. The advertising guru recently opened up on why he works four day weeks and lets us in on a few other keys to success.

He started off by examining the culture of working life in the Western world. Marc makes the point that we live in a high-pressure, long hours-based culture. When he was first starting out he formed his own agency, Kitcatt Nohr and while working there he would think nothing of working from seven in the morning until midnight. In fact, he would take an odd sense of pride in it.

Nohr realises that sometimes we need to pull a late shift or two when a project needs completing. But he feels that in the modern world that this is becoming less of a fallback when things are tough and is increasingly becoming the norm. He suggests that technology is, at least part, to blame. Of course, the issue is that, not only is that mindset bad for our mental health, but it kills creativity.

Nohr claims “As a leader, your power to make things happen relies a lot on your state. That is determined by a range of factors, such as your mental health, physical health and how stimulated you are.”
He probably has a point. There’s a reason we often get our best ideas when we are in the shower, or while enjoying our breakfast. It is very difficult to engineer creativity.

A couple of years ago Nohr switched himself to a four day a week contract and claims it was a game-changer. He claims that not only was it far better for his health, but it has improved his work performance as well. But can reducing the time you spend working really increase your productivity? Nohr certainly thinks so.

As mentioned he was recently included in the Timewise Power 50. The prestigious list pays homage to senior executives. Nohr reckons that of all the lists that exist in business this is one that should probably carry more kudos. Due to the award’s focus on creativity, it is one of the few awards that really helps push a more healthy, modern exec. A leader who focuses on their mental health and lets their creativity bloom rather than working themselves towards an early grave.

When asked why he decided to reduce his working week he answered:
“I needed a bit of headspace and more varied and diverse days. We all know there’s a law of diminishing returns when it comes to working longer hours – and certainly when it comes to sitting in meetings or at your desk, which as my former business partner Paul Kitcatt once said to me is "a very dangerous place from which to view the world".”

He continued to say that he was in a position to really evaluate what was important to him and was in a great position to make a positive choice. He suggested that by reducing his work hours he was able to do more of the things he loved in his life.

When asked about the biggest challenges the approach has led to he responded:
“The biggest barriers are how you organise your time, thinking through what it means for your team and communicating really clearly. When one of those things is missing, that’s when it goes wrong.”

Nohr speaks a lot of sense and his views on creativity and mental health are welcomed in an industry that doesn’t always promote self-care it is good to see an established pro spreading such a positive message.