Hanging out is such an American-sounding phrase, but it's such a global thing to do. When we are kids, we often hung out with our friends, talking, inventing games on the fly, you know, just hanging out. There's a certain flow which comes when there is no set agenda to accomplish or things to complete.
But we find that in and amongst our working lives a lot of hanging out actually happens as well.
In and amongst our working lives a lot of hanging out happens. It's interesting to hear the team in The Graphical Tree's two studios go about their business. For all the focus on getting things done, managing and producing graphics, there's also a lot of banter, conversation and communication that happens in between. We don't have a quiet office, but a vibrant one that mixes work with community and a lot of hanging out. It's such an interesting phenomenon that scholar Shelia Liming has written a book about it called Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time. Not that we're 'killing' much time around here either, there's always something interesting happening, 'people to see, places to go', as the saying goes – the other one is, 'if you want something done, give it to a busy person,' – nod nod, wink wink...
Another great place for work hangouts is while on a site visit. There can be pregnant pauses while waiting for things to happen, for people to arrive or for others to finish their tasks. So what do you do? You hang out. It's these in-between moments which can often bring value and comradery, affording joint moments of connection between customer and supplier, and nurturing a working relationship that until then may have been task and deadline orientated. Not that either take their eye off the prize so to speak, but when you have the chance to hang out there's the possibility of friendly interaction.
Taking your guard down a little, and being natural with each other can help working relationships foster trust, empathy and togetherness. It's one of the reasons when we're recruiting that we take our time, to bring in people who we feel are the right fit for The Graphical Tree as a whole. We like staff to be able to interact with each other, customers, and suppliers alike. It all aids in a friendly, open, yet professional atmosphere, that helps to make everyone as relaxed as they can in their roles – it eases the pressure somewhat as things can obviously get very stressful when an approaching deadline looms.
Hanging out can also help you find out some useful information which might benefit both sides of the conversation too – not so much our guards are down, more so our receptors are out and our inquisitive nature comes to the surface. We can ask questions which maybe we didn't feel were relevant and yet could pay dividends down the line – does your colleague like milk of dark chocolate perhaps, weaker or stronger tea, right through to taking noting if their parents are in good health or not, for example. It's not prying, it's taking an interest in each other's well-being along the way. And who doesn't like the odd bar of nice chocolate as a gift every so often?
As the above suggests, hanging out, whether with friends or at work can also help with mental health we find. Having the chance to connect with peers while performing a work role is a way to express our humanness, and normalness, in often stressful environments and situations. Perhaps it gives us some grounding and creates humour in and amongst all the emails, production and interactions. So we're all for friendly banter and conversation that helps to make the workplace more accessible and inviting for each other and for clients alike. We all have similar shared responsibilities at the end of the day – to produce great graphics that enhance our portfolios and potential, and with retail especially, encouraging customer purchasing.
We're sure the good vibes are transferable. So when the prints and cut vinyl decals are packaged up, some of The Graphical Tree's energy is wrapped up in there as well, waiting to flow and hang out at the other end to share with you too.