What happens when you are too busy to go to the toilet

'No-collar workers' frustrated at the lack of flexibility in the workplace can revolutionise established practices, writes Nicola Clark.

A colleague recently interviewed a man who claimed he was 'too busy to go the toilet'. What does he do? Is he the president of the US, a leading scientist, or Claire Danes' character in Homeland, perhaps? Is the future happiness of the human race in his hands? Actually, he works in strategy at an advertising agency.

This man has succumbed to the pursuit that has almost replaced the British obsession with the weather in some circles - the 'busy-off'. This is where executives compete to declare themselves the most starved of time - and, by association, the most important.

From the size of their inbox (massive) to the length of their chatter on just how busy they are (constant) the busy-off is a drain on the creative economy. By the logic of the busy-off, not only is it socially acceptable to boast that you do not have time to go to the toilet, it does not single you out as an idiot incapable of managing your own time - or bladder.

Working long, late and loudly alongside a constant stream of consciousness via email are the core traits of the busy-off. At the same time, the gap between output and input within UK plc continues to grow.

Against this backdrop, it is little wonder that 'millennials' are so frustrated with the somewhat turgid rate of change in the UK workplace. New research from MTV on the growth of 'no-collar workers' shows that those entering the workplace are distinctly frustrated by the lack of flexibility.

Ajaz Ahmed, founder and chairman of AKQA, says there is a whole generation that is confused as to why things are going backward when they go into an office, whereas their experience outside is more streamlined, efficient and focused.

We are at a pivotal point in corporate history, where students can educate teachers. Here's hoping this next generation can educate the existing establishment on better ways of working, and leave the hyperbole of the busy-off behind.


What marketers should know about no-collar workers

- Quality not quantity

Millennials work when they want to - 81% believe they should be allowed to make their own hours at work. Remote working is standard; as long as the work gets done, time spent in the office should not matter. This is a generation focused on quality of output, rather than keeping up appearances.

- No respect for titles

Millennials are not impressed by the titles, positions and politics of the hierarchical corporate world. They advocate an 'idiocracy' under which good ideas trump elaborate job titles.

- Deserving recognition

Corporations relying on the idea that young people are lucky to have a job are well out of touch, with 92% believing their company is lucky to have them as an employee. Eight out of 10 millennials believe they deserve more recognition for their work and more than half of them want feedback at least weekly.

- Teachers not pupils

Sooner or later, millennials will reshape the workplace. They are tech-savvy, entrepreneurial and collaborative, with 76% thinking that their bosses could learn a lot from them.


Nicola Clark is Marketing's head of features. Follow her on Twitter: @nickykc.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer