The alarm goes off. You hit snooze and sleep for a precious extra 10 minutes. It goes off again… *BEEP BEEP BEEP*, to which you respond by dragging yourself out of bed and into the shower to slosh a bit of water over you. Then you change and dash out the door and onto any particular form of public transport where you promptly pull out your Kindle (or other assorted electronic reading device) and avoid eye contact with anyone else on their pre-9am stampede to the office.
For the past year, this daily migration has been, simply, part of the routine – for me it was from Brixton to Farringdon stations on the tube – and yet, I never questioned it until I started working from Australia. Over the past week I am starting to ask myself – exactly how much time did I spend traversing London on public transport to reach Future Considerations HQ? So I decided to represent it graphically…
Perhaps we retain this traditional idea of the office out of habit, and are yet to truly reconsider at what an ‘office’ really means? At Future Considerations, we have recently elected to go almost completely virtual. While we still have a hotdesking and meeting space available in central London, we realised that the traditional office was, in our case, yet another of the trappings of ‘traditional’ organisation which did little to help us focus more purely on our purpose.
For instance, I am writing this post from The State Library of Queensland in Brisbane, while the rest of the team work together across borders in Europe & North America (plus James, who of course, is in New Zealand). A great example of us working virtually was a team pulled together for the sake of responding to a request for proposal with Patrice, who was leading the team in The Netherlands, Lara contributed from both Amsterdam and Istanbul, Zoe was working out of Spain, and Chris and I were based on opposite sides of London. The success of project was palatable when we received an email from the client inviting us as one of three suppliers to create a taster experience. Outside of specific projects, we still maintain virtual relationships through tools such as Yammer and Podio, while being encouraged to pursue our work according to how we wish to prioritise it in our increasingly busy lives. And moving out of our traditional office has encouraged us to invest more in those face-to-face practices which result in deep relationship-building within our team and our network, like our monthly learning community gathering, and social times together as a team.
But is this the true extent of what we could gain from reconsidering the worth of an office? What would it mean for our quality of life if we reclaimed the 1 week, 5 days, 1 hour and 48 minutes spent on travelling to a office and channeled it into our other life priorities? Perhaps we can draw parallels of the type of success and achievement gained from such behaviour changes by Steve Corona, the Chief Technology Officer at Twitpic, who changed his habits over a 30 day period, leading to the creation of a new book, clarity through meditation, stronger friendships and finishing in a number of long distance races to be what was, in his own words, “the most successful month of my existence”.
With this in mind, I would like to challenge you, the reader, to choose one day a week over the next two months and elect to work from home (of course, with your employer’s blessings) and use the 80 minutes that you would otherwise have spent on a bus, train or bicycle and give yourself permission to dream, create and build to make that idea/concept/project that has been sitting at the back of your mind, filed in the ‘I’ll do that one day’ pile into reality.
Perhaps who you become from acting on a dream will inspire those you work with to go from great to brilliance?
Some questions to consider:
- What other habits do we have that suck time from our 100km/hour lives?
- Do we really need be present in an office in order to achieve success?
- How does our office affect our culture at work?
- What type of culture are we trying to create and what part does the office play in this?
- What else could we do to build relationship and team spirit in the absence of a traditional office?
- What could the system gain if we all spent 80 minutes a week moving ideas from the ‘I’ll do that one day’ pile into reality?