Agile Working and Mindsets - Does it Really Make Sense to Travel 4 Hours a Day?

"Who does this?", you ask... well, I have done this. I can't quite believe that I did (and for as long as I did!), but I did. I often talk about "working smarter, not harder", with a focus on what makes us effective and efficient. I would like to look at taking this a step further; thinking about the environment where we're at our most productive, and how we focus on our own mindset to support this as well as some of the wider societal benefits.
We all work in an agile way, whether we realise it or not. For example you may choose to read and send work emails from home, without really thinking about or realising what you're actually doing. I've spent this summer in Scotland in the Artists' Town of Kirkcudbright, and while I've been here I delivered some virtual classrooms. It got me thinking about my Scottish ancestry, and how about 300 years ago people worked on the land. People worked from home or close to home, cared for their families (young and old), and focused on output; what they delivered in order to support them. People were independent and focused on the end goal. People were also part of their community; they knew the people around them. Today, for a lot of people, this simply isn't the case. They live somewhere far away from where they work, which are often "dormitory towns" or commuter communities.

In my blog, "Working Smarter, Not Harder!", the message is the same - focus on what you deliver, your output. Where and when you deliver this doesn't really matter, especially in today's connected and virtual world. Reflect on when you are at your most effective. This could be at different times in the day, and for each and every one of you this is likely to be different. We accept global time zones, so what stops us from accepting that individuals have different "time zones"? Asking people to conform to set working hours almost seems counter-productive when you think about it, right?

Consider this, too; is an office the best environment? An office is full of distractions, people wanting your attention, talking about what they did the night before, and of course meetings! How many unproductive, totally ineffective & inefficient meetings have you attended in your working life? I'll go into effective meetings and meeting etiquette in another article soon.

I often say to participants on the "Start Your Own Business" workshops that I run on behalf of LHH Penna that when you run your own business, you have to be on top of your game each and every day. However, how often (if you were truly honest with yourself) would you say you had a day in the office when you weren't productive and didn't really achieve or deliver very much? I think probably quite a few; I know I did when I was employed! You were present - but what did that "presenteeism" achieve? For example; do you have to go to an office to buy insurance? Does someone selling insurance have to go to an office? You can do these things without anyone having to be present. If you were able to work in an environment that allows you to "be your best self" (there's research to say that people have their best ideas when in the bath or walking in woods, when they are away from distractions and stress free!), then surely this would support more organisations adopting agile working and the many forms that agile working can take? It would also support an inclusive culture; a lot of people with a disability can't work because they simply can't get to an office. Think of all the untapped talent who could work from home, or somewhere close to home, without the need to travel.

Some of the other benefits of agile working for organisations are greater productivity, lower attrition rates, and better & easier recruitment. There are wider benefits too; if less people had to commute there would be reduced air pollution, reduced costs on infrastructure, less of a "hole" at home, and ease in supporting childcare & the care of elders. I appreciate that agile working doesn't suit everyone or every type of organisation, however I encourage anyone to consider an agile process for themselves and adopt an open, growth mindset where you can. 

Realise what's truly important and needs your attention. Consider "pivoting" from your daily routine - work in a different way or from a different location - and recognise when you need to "pivot";

Aspire to apply Pareto's Principle and focus on completed work, rather than tasks on a to-do list; and;

Do begin with the end in mind, as quoted by Stephen Covey!

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