Yes, you need a change of scenery

By Greg Dardis / Guest Editorial

It’s a well-known anecdote, but it bears repeating: The Post-it Note was conceived on a golf course.

It was 1974 and Art Fry was at the second hole when a colleague mentioned an innovative “peel adhesive” developed by 3M research chemist Spencer Silver, who was seeking a practical application. It was Fry’s job to develop ideas into businesses, and his interest was piqued.

He attended a seminar Silver hosted on the product to learn more. Fry’s eureka moment later came at church choir practice, when his bookmark repeatedly slipped from the pages of his hymnal. In 1977, the Post-it Note was born.

In this age when long work hours are hailed as a badge of honor and most American workers fail to use their vacation days, stories like that are a much-needed reminder that being out of the office can be just as important as being in it. Research supports the value of getting away from the office, not only for the good of the worker but also for the good of the company. The concept, however, is hardly new: Henry Ford famously reduced his employees’ workweek from six days to five once he discovered productivity declined after an eight-hour day and a 40-hour work week.

Google is known for its riff on the old adage “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” by implementing “20-percent time,” which encourages employees to spend about 20 percent of their work time on their own ideas. The policy thrives throughout the tech world, according to Wired magazine, including at Facebook, LinkedIn and Apple. At Google, the policy has yielded Google News, its autocomplete search function and Gmail, all thanks to “passion projects” employees were allowed to pursue.

So, this summer, change up your scenery and encourage your employees to do so as well. Make use of company flextime. If you go in to the office early, leave early. Trade your cubicle for a coffee shop. Instead of sitting for that one-on-one, chat while you stroll. Consider indulging your employees’ out-of-the-box ideas and try some of your own.

New vistas, new experiences and new energy may offer new perspectives, and your eureka moment might strike when you’re outside your eight-to-five.

You might also consider a day or two of professional coaching, which can be just as important as a day or two by the lake.

It’s easy to dismiss the benefits of a day dedicated to company or division-wide executive coaching. It’s easy to ask, who can afford to take that much time from their work week? The question might actually be, who can afford not to?

Professional training affirms employees by showing them they’re worth the investment. It benefits managers by honing skill sets that launch teams to new levels. It contributes to the bottom line by equipping employees for stronger presentations, communication and networking. Untethered to landlines and deadlines, they’re given the opportunity to see their work framed by the larger picture. In summer terms, it’s a gin and tonic for the soul.

Dardis Inc. offers one- and two-day programs tailored to particular client objectives and workplace environments. We show our participants how closely their behavior actually aligns with their goals and then we give them the tools and exercises to bridge that gap.

A heavy workload can make it hard to justify a break for executive training, but our clients consistently tell us they’re glad they did – and they reap the benefits in surprising, long-term ways.

The beauty of being a lifelong learner is that every change of scenery can stimulate new insights. Last year, a Forbes magazine contributor who studies corporate training identified a common denominator among the most competitive organizations: They create “a culture of learning” and give their employees opportunities to reflect.

Too often, employees spend so much time preparing the topic for presentation that they neglect to prepare for the presentation itself. When this happens regularly, they develop bad habits that distract from their idea. Stepping back to focus on delivery, vocabulary and body language, among other skills, can be as career-changing as a eureka moment on the golf course. When the method for better communication becomes clear, so does the message – to managers, clients and competitors.

So when you or your colleague gets that flash of brilliance – or a longtime project is finally ready for unveiling – you’ll have the tools to articulate why it’s great and persuade others to get onboard for the next big thing.



Greg Dardis is the CEO of Dardis Inc., located at 2403 Muddy Creek Lane in Coralville. For more information, visit