It appears that my post about business buzz words last week was, as they say, insufficiently robust. Because I omitted a term which, sad to say, we are likely to be hearing more about.
The term is sweatworking and it refers to conducting business while working out at the gym. It has spawned the corollary terms spin spin situation, which refers to closing a deal while you and your client are each on a stationary bike machine, and earn while you burn.
Where to begin?
Now, I will confess that I haven’t been inside a gym in a long, long time. Maybe things have changed, but I don’t seem to recall the gym being conducive to conducting business. For one thing, there is the issue of privacy. How do you know if that sweaty puffy pervert who’s checking you out is a stalker or a competitor? Second, usually when I was at the gym I was both breathless and, believe it or not, sweaty. It’s hard to negotiate when you are breathless—it conjures up a hostage situation. And if you are sweaty, you might smear the ink on the contract. Or, more likely, short out your iPad.
It all strikes me as one more example of unnecessary multitasking that may be fun for the people who are doing it but is painful for bystanders to watch and hear. Consider, for example, cell phone conference calls taken at restaurant tables, texting while driving and talking on the phone while using a restroom. As I always say, just because you can do something doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.
Apparently there is now a huge demand for gyms to supply members with guest coupons so they can bring along business associates who might not be members to their workout. You don’t “do lunch” anymore. Now you say, “My trainer will call your trainer and we’ll do exercise.”
One gym in London is building business networking forums around gym membership. You work out on an exercise bike while attending a business seminar. The program is called “Learn While You Burn.”
When practitioners of sweatworking are asked the all-important “why” question, the answers are “It saves time,” and “It’s fun.”
Let’s, as they say, drill down and try to understand those assertions.
First, I can’t see what makes it fun. In the good old days, one of the antidotes to stress was supposed to be exercise. It was supposed to be a time to relax, let your brain recharge and benefit from additional oxygen. Keeping track of what someone is saying with respect to work while trying to figure out your recovery rate doesn’t sound like fun to me.
Second, timesaving can be a good thing. But are we really supposed to believe that there are people out there who are so busy that they have to combine the highly personal act of working out with doing their jobs? If working out is important, doesn’t it deserve a person’s undivided attention? If someone calls me on their cell phone while they are peeing, I have to believe that they don’t think that I’m a very high priority. I’m something that can be squeezed in while performing a bodily function to prevent it from otherwise being “down time.”
One time, and I’m not making this up, I was at a presentation on motivating employees and they showed a video of people talking about their worst boss. There were some wild stories, but the winner was a secretary who told of her boss who had a bathroom in her office suite. The boss told her that she was too busy to flush, so one of her jobs was to go in and flush the toilet when she came out.
I bet that boss welcomes the idea of sweatworking!