The leaders at Gabriel deGrood Bendt are “always thinking” of creative ways to solve problems, like the ad agency’s tagline suggests, and not just for their clients. For the past four years, Minneapolis-based GdB has banned internal e-mails on Wednesdays. The idea was simple: Eliminate needless distractions, and enable creative people to do their jobs more efficiently.
“It was just kind of absurd, the amount of time wasted,” says Creative Director Doug deGrood (above on right, with agency CEO Tom Gabriel). “[E-mail] can be a huge time suck.” deGrood explains that it takes 30 minutes to get into a “deep brain dive” to solve creative challenges. After every distraction that interrupts that intense focus, the process starts over.
At first, the agency’s 35 employees were a bit baffled by the policy, but most now tout its benefits. On Wednesdays, when they need to talk, they pick up the phone or stop by a coworker’s desk—which often results in quicker, more fruitful discussions than those via e-mail.