As the children begin to return back to school and many of us return back from holidays I can’t help but reminisce back to my own return to school and compare it to the return to work post-holiday.
I am generalising here but lots of children have such a positive outlook, they return to school with shiny new shoes, lunch boxes and dressed smartly. They greet school friends happily, look up to their teachers (again this is a broad statement, I am sure we all had that one teacher who wasn’t worth their salt) and soak everything in. The school structure is not unlike the structure of the workplace - many of us go to work everyday dressed in some form of uniform, have colleagues, have superiors and are surrounded by information every-day. Most of us still even sit at a desk all day!
Teachers nurture their students and allow them to make mistakes whilst ensuring they learn from them. There are rules in school and an expected way to behave and act, similar to any place of work where regulations are in place and a professional code of conduct is expected of us. But as adults in the workplace we act so differently to children in school – why is that?
Granted we can’t run into the work place squealing and giggling like school children do, but have we lost a lot of the positive attributes we all had as children that could actually benefit us in the workplace now. How many people actually greet their colleagues each day? Do some of you even look up from your desk? Do you look up to your superiors or just think he/she is a complete pain in the neck obsessed with how much fees you bring in each month without knowing you personally at all? Are you yourself the Managing Partner and do you feel you teach and nurture your staff in the best way you can, are they able to come to you after making a mistake and can they trust you will teach them the best way to not make that mistake again – or are they terrified they won’t make that next promotion? Wouldn’t you rather as a Managing Partner your staff look to you for guidance and support and be able to ‘mess up and ‘fess up’ quickly.
Children play in their break time, they really play and go for it, running, screaming and climbing. In our ‘play’ time what are we all doing? Yes I am sure we can all ‘play’ hard but we
are also checking our emails, chatting to others about work and more often than not thinking about work before we go to sleep at night. Children read stories at night and let their imaginations run wild. It may not always be possible but I believe it is so important to learn how to switch off like we did as children. When you truly switch off and rest, you really can return to the workplace with a fresh outlook.
Not all of us are parents but we have all been children – what did you do the night before your return back to school post summer holidays? Bubble bath? Early night? Basically you were pampered and as well rested as you could be. What do you now do before your return to work? Go through your emails so you are ahead before the next day? Get your brain back into work mode? You aren’t always as rested as you could be when you return the next day are you?
And what about socialising – who didn’t love a play date as a child! When you got to see your friends outside the constraints of school and where you did your real bonding together. Now agreed we don’t all have to socialise with our work friends all the time, we all have family and other commitments however once every 6 months take the time to socialise with your colleagues. Go bowling, eat dinner, have a drink together, order pizza into the office after work. When you get to know people it’s much easier to work with them during the day, your teams will want to help each other out and knowing more about everyone’s personal lives means it is easier to understand and help colleagues achieve a happier work life balance.
Now this is all a simplistic view and I am generalising a lot here however going to school is how we all begin in life. The school structure has been the same way for many years, in-fact the first schools were thought to have existed in ancient Greece and ancient Rome. Perhaps we should all look back and consider adopting some of our child-like ways in the workplace? Ice-cream for lunch anyone?