ITV’s HQ on the South Bank has a fantastic history. Originally the home of London Weekend Television, its heritage oozes from every corner and one can almost feel the ghosts of showbiz greats from years gone by. It also has the worst lift system in the world.
22 floors, 2000 people, five lifts. It basically takes 15 minutes to get anywhere. Everyone packed in, trying not to invade each other’s personal space – especially when you realise you forgot to reply to that email sent two weeks earlier by the person standing next to you.
Sometimes, it can be magical. I remember waiting for a lift that opened to reveal Barry McGuigan. ‘It’s Barry McGuigan!’ I said…with which he awkwardly concurred. But most times you just wish you’d had a flu jab.
So, at the end of 2016 I made a pledge. I decided that I was never going to be at the mercy of ITV’s lifts again. The strategies for getting from A to B. The coping mechanisms. The time I needed to allow to arrive on time for a meeting. No more. Ever. Full stop. It is the first New Year’s resolution I have ever stuck to. This isn’t saying much when previous ones have included ‘stop frowning so much’ (three days, two hours, 15 minutes).
Since then, I have calculated that I have covered over five hundred thousand steps. I do ten minutes of strenuous stair climbing every morning. This allows me to clear my head, work out my plan for the day…and has given me a base level of fitness, without having to join a gym. It also means I am always on time, more in control and back in charge of my destiny. No lift will ever be the boss of me ever again.
It is not all upside. I spend more hours of the day out of breath than most people. I have an unhealthy awareness of the brick configurations of stairwells. In the summer, I sometimes need a sweatband …and I do miss those serendipitous meetings with featherweight world champion boxers.
The biggest upside of all. We are moving offices later this year.
Rufus Radcliffe is group marketing director at ITV