Embracing Our Ikigai: How A Japanese Philosophy Can Transform The Workplace

Embracing Our Ikigai: How A Japanese Philosophy Can Transform The Workplace
SHARE
THIS



In her latest guest post for B&Tthe co-founder of Sydney content agency Storyation, Lauren Quaintance, (pictured below) takes a Japanese angle to a very modern take on the Aussie workplace… 

When I was a kid, my parents used to say that they didn’t mind what I did with my life. I always remember my Dad saying: “You can be a street cleaner if you want. But you better be the best damn street cleaner in the whole street.” What he probably couldn’t envisage at the time was that I was probably never going to be one thing. I’ve been a journalist and a marketer and an entrepreneur. I’m also an art lover, a mum, a runner and and obsessive traveller and reader. And I’ll probably be many more things before I shuffle off this mortal coil. 

Lauren Quaintance

And so when Mimi Cullen and I launched Storyation five years ago next month we were determined that we would see our staff as whole people with full and interesting lives outside of work. We started by making a point of embracing part-time workers and flexible working days.

If we found a brilliant editor or producer or salesperson who also happened to be a fledgling musician who wanted to spend a day a week writing music, or a mum who wasn’t ready for full-time work, we always made sure we found a way to make it work.

You could say that we openly embraced “side hustles” or the so-called “gig economy” that Millennials are so famous for except that more than one of those staff members was on the wrong side of 40.

I prefer to think that this is a reflection of the changing nature of work in 2018. That whether you are 25 or 55 no-one really wants to be shackled to a desk in an office 10 hours a day and that many people are actively choosing a different kind of life.

Now as well as part-time mothers and fathers with young families we have one staff member who is completing her first documentary feature film, another who is writing a dystopian thriller and is the star of a recent prime time ABC quiz show. We have one employee who is an emerging Instagram travel influencer and another who has just completed a Master’s degree in sustainable architecture.

Having so many part-timers does not come without its challenges, of course. We’ve had to develop systems to support our part and full-time workers – including ensuring that everything we do is in the cloud – and encourage our highly independent staff to work collectively at the same time. We haven’t always got it right, but we know it makes for a richer workplace and that our clients benefit enormously from dealing with staff who have life experiences outside of our office.

In 2018 we’ve gone one step further and introduced the Japanese concept of ikigai giving each staff member a paid half day off a month to spend time doing something “that moves them towards their perfect state of balance.”

That means, our staff are actively encouraged to do something outside of work that gives them a sense of meaning and purpose.

Combining the Japanese words iki (life) and gai (value or worth) ikigai is most often translated to mean “a reason to live.” On the island of Okinawa, home to some of the longest-living humans on the planet, it is apparently translated as “a reason to get up in the morning. 

While you might immediately associate it with finding a vocation, a person’s ikigai may or may not be related to paid work. In a survey of 2,000 Japanese men and women found just 31per cent considered work as their ikigai.

We know that many of our employees are deeply passionate about the award-winning content they create for our clients, but that’s not the whole picture. Whether it’s learning to paint or volunteering with refugees each one of them have their own nuanced, shifting and sometimes contradictory interests and Storyation is but one part of their lives. Just as it should be.

Please login with linkedin to comment

Ikigai lauren quaintance storyation

Latest News

Monday TV Wrap: MAFS Reunion Finale Highest Rated TV Of The Year
  • Media

Monday TV Wrap: MAFS Reunion Finale Highest Rated TV Of The Year

Sunday night saw MAFS’ finale episode which netted in an impressive 1,398,000 viewers – an increase of 264,000 from Wednesday night’s episode. The extent of Coco and Cam’s affair was revealed, as was the reveal to everyone that Bryce did in fact buy a gift for his proclaimed not-girlfriend outside of the experiment. Perhaps most […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
SBS Retires Iconic ‘The World Game’, ‘Cycling Central’ Brands
  • Media

SBS Retires Iconic ‘The World Game’, ‘Cycling Central’ Brands

SBS will shut down The World Game digital platform, marking an end to the beloved football brand’s legacy that officially began in 2001. The network’s Cycling Central website, which covered the most important news around events on the cycling calendar like the Tour De France, will also come under knife, with both standalone football and […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
The Sydney Morning Herald Marks 190 Years Of Print
  • Media

The Sydney Morning Herald Marks 190 Years Of Print

New South Wales masthead The Sydney Morning Herald celebrates its 190th anniversary today, as one of the oldest continuously printed metropolitan newspapers in the world. In today’s paper, a souvenir wrap-around will show how The Herald forged trust with generations of Sydneysiders with its quality journalism and unique lens on reporting the life and times […]

New York, New York. - May 27, 2017: Google sign outside the Google office in New York City. It is a multinational technology company specializing in internet services and products.
  • Media

Google Considers An Appeal After Federal Court Rules It Misled Australians

Google has said it is considering an appeal, after the Federal Court ruled the tech giant had misled consumers in regards to how it collected location data from Android devices. The decision comes as a major win for the ACCC, which initiated the court proceedings in October 2019. The competition watchdog argued that Google misled […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Nine Announces Judging Panel For State Of Originality
  • Marketing

Nine Announces Judging Panel For State Of Originality

Nine has named the judging panel for its much-anticipated State of Originality, Australia’s richest advertising award, aimed at making State of Origin the equivalent of Australia’s Super Bowl in advertising terms. Announced at Nine’s Upfront last September, the winning campaign will take home much more than a trophy – there’s $1 million in advertising inventory […]

British Supermarket Begins Court Case Over Copycat Caterpillar Cake
  • Marketing
  • Media

British Supermarket Begins Court Case Over Copycat Caterpillar Cake

British supermarket Marks & Spencer has taken an intellectual property claim against fellow supermarket ALDI over the latter’s Cuthbert The Caterpillar Cake, which they allege is too similar to their own iconic Colin The Caterpillar Cake. Colin the Caterpillar (pictured above) has been a staple of birthday parties across the UK since 1990, when the […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
DDB Sydney Unveils Australian Red Cross’ First Brand Campaign In Almost A Decade
  • Campaigns

DDB Sydney Unveils Australian Red Cross’ First Brand Campaign In Almost A Decade

We all felt helpless in the face of 2020’s constant barrage of disasters and catastrophes. And 2021 hasn’t let up either. Last year, Australian Red Cross experienced its biggest demand since World War II, so it has responded with a new brand campaign bringing attention to this overwhelming feeling and highlighting its 106-year track record […]

“Food Is A Way Of Answering Emotional Questions In Ourselves”: The Masterchef Judges On Season 13
  • Media

“Food Is A Way Of Answering Emotional Questions In Ourselves”: The Masterchef Judges On Season 13

As Master Chef prepares to launch back onto screens on Monday 19th April, B&T had the opportunity to speak to the show’s hosts, food critic Melissa Leong and chefs Jock Zonfrillo and Andy Allan, who won the show’s fourth season. The three judges first appeared on last year’s Masterchef: Back To Win, which saw returning contestants […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Which 50? Has The Datafication Of Advertising Finally Killed Off Adland’s Favourite Slogan?
  • Partner Content
  • Technology

Which 50? Has The Datafication Of Advertising Finally Killed Off Adland’s Favourite Slogan?

Undoubtedly one of the most overused slogans in marketing’s and advertising’s history is John Wanamaker’s iconic “half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half”. And it’s a credit to the quip’s longevity that last year the line celebrated a real milestone – its 100th birthday. But […]

Partner Content

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Leadership, Humanity, Technology – The Sweet Spot
  • Media
  • Technology

Leadership, Humanity, Technology – The Sweet Spot

The SingularityU Australia Executive Program will take place this may, celebrating leadership at the intersection of the values of humanity and the value of technology. The Elon Musks, Apples and Xeros of the world are taking risks for humanity and creating new  technologies that streamline and beautify business operations. They simplify life by providing basic […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
OMD Alumnus Launches Specialist Media Agency For The Franchise Sector; TFM Digital
  • Marketing

OMD Alumnus Launches Specialist Media Agency For The Franchise Sector; TFM Digital

Brisbane media professional and former OMD Australia Account Director Taylor Fielding (pictured) has officially launched TFM Digital. TFM Digital is a specialist media agency based in Newstead which primarily provides media buying services, and strategy development, to businesses chiefly, but not exclusively, within the franchise sector. Prior to the launch of TFM Digital, Fielding spent […]

FutureFeed Appoints Five By Five For Global Launch
  • Media

FutureFeed Appoints Five By Five For Global Launch

Launch marketing specialists Five by Five Global have been appointed by FutureFeed to develop their brand, international certification trademark and go to market strategy. The innovative livestock feed ingredient developed by CSIRO, Meat and Livestock Australian and James Cook University uses a specific genus of seaweed, Asparagopsis, which significantly reduces methane emissions in ruminant livestock. […]

SKMG’s Andrew Knowles Snares B&T’s 30 Under 30 For PR
  • Marketing

SKMG’s Andrew Knowles Snares B&T’s 30 Under 30 For PR

Andrew Knowles, partner and co-founder of the corporate communications consultancy Shoebridge Knowles Media Group (SKMG), has won the PR category in the 2021 B&T 30 Under 30 Awards. Knowles received the award at a ceremony in Sydney last night, claiming victory in a highly competitive field that included leading executives from some of Australia’s biggest […]