Ray Doyle

Sustainable Work

5th April 2016
by Paul Woods

Cover image: Ray Doyle

Ray is a Dublin based creative director, photographer and filmmaker.

Long working hours are something that have long been taken for granted in the creative industry. In your experience, is this still the case and do you expect this to change in the future?
The fact that I’m responding to these questions at 02:00 in the morning would suggest that the world of working long hours is alive and well and taking us creative folk down one-by-one, but there is hope.

I believe the fault lies with poor client management, it’s that simple, it really is. In such as competitive industry, agencies, boutique studios and even freelancer designers will go above and beyond to retain a client, even if this client is toxic to the business.

The issue of long hours is one we as an industry created. The client is not to blame. We allow this behaviour and if this is to ever change we need to change, we need to value our work, respect ourselves and work with clients that respect and see us as a partner, a valuable asset to their business.

How important is sustainable work / life balance in an agency environment and why?
Critical. A designer with time to explore, to create and to express their creative ideas will produce work that will ultimately benefit the client and business they work for.

How do you manage a work / life balance in your own practice and how did that compare to when you were agencyside managing a larger team of creatives?
It’s quite difficult to have a good work / life balance when running your own agency, especially in the early days when you need to build up a client base and a steady stream of recurring income. So you work every hour God sends.

However, once established you can drop a gear as the fear of paying bills and staff wages are no longer your focus and the ever elusive work/life balance can be restored. I believe the same to be true when working agencyside.

Do you feel it is possible for staff to produce great work and be competitive while maintaining ‘regular hours’ and how?
I do indeed and it all comes down to time . Designers require time to review and digest a brief, time to ask questions of the client, time to research and time to explore creative avenues and executions. If this process is communicated to the client and factored into the project plan great work can be produced within the normal working day.

What are the main challenges / barriers to creating a sustainable working environment in a creative workplace?
Cash flow :)

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