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Bench press for success

09 Jan 2012

According to a recent Herald article the new buzz word in business is sweatworking – networking in the gym. 

Evidently, instead of having coffee with a potential client or colleague you hit the weights together, then the juice bar, and presumably the showers at some point as well. Some gyms overseas are even focusing on the trend, making classes available that include not only fitness training but sales training.

With all due respect to the gym junkies out there, am I the only one to find this mildly disturbing? Do we really need to be doing business every second of every day?  Surely there should be some time during which we turn off the smart phone, leave the cloud, and just – dare I say it – relax? Or have we become so KPI, ROI, and other acronym-focused that we can’t bear the thought of missing a single moment of business?

Ten years ago, emails were checked a couple of times a day. Websites were updated once or twice a year. Those with cell phones had them for emergencies – or the occasional text message (usually from a tech-savvy teenager). Today, texting is an acceptable means of marketing, websites that are not updated daily soon die, email is a major form of communication and social media is the new water cooler when it comes to conversation.   

We never seem to switch off anymore. Even if we go to the beach, we take our phones – and thanks to a new waterproof capsule for your iPhone, you can even take it swimming with you. Do we really need to update our FaceBook or check our sales figures while we’re surfing? And I don’t mean the cyber variety.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s not that I’m against technology. Anybody who has seen my collection of gadgets and gizmos knows that. I am however concerned that as a species we are losing the ability to simply relax and forget about business for even the smallest amount of time.

Start Ups are especially vulnerable as they battle to establish and maintain their presence in the business landscape. While it may be necessary to work hard during those first few months and years, all work and no play makes an entrepreneur very dull indeed. Friends and family will soon tire of being the second place holder to your business unless you remember to turn the phone off from time to time.

Time out isn’t just about ensuring you have some play time with the kids either – it’s vital to your ability to create and to be productive. Both your brain and your imagination need time to recharge and refocus, and if you take the boardroom everywhere you go – including the beach and the gym – they are never going to get the chance and you will wind up burned out.

I also find myself wondering if doing deals in the gym is really about networking or if it is more about competing. Does whoever lifts the most or spins the fastest get the contract? I don’t know – the last place I would really like any of my clients or colleagues to see me is the gym; it’s not a pretty sight. 

Besides, I prefer the smell of freshly ground coffee to sweat any day.

Image source here.