After almost 17 years a corporate commuter, this writer knows a thing or two about the trials and tribulations of trying to get to and from work on time while keeping a sane mind and reasonably fresh body odour. From navigating the traffic of the M6, M4 and M25, penned in like a sheep on Great Western Rail and the London Underground to the admittedly more pleasant and picturesque ferry-ride coming into Hong Kong harbour.
Thankfully the Monday-Friday 9-5.30ish requirement to be chained to your office pen (continuing the sheep references) is slowly but surely becoming a thing of the past for more and more commuters. Many corporates are not only seeing the cost-saving benefits of ‘agile working’, where they empower employees to work where, when and to a point how they please. They are also benefiting from the resulting improved productivity from a happier workforce who are responding positively to the trust shown in them, coupled with an improved work/life balance.
A recent report by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation expects 2017 to be the tipping point when over half the organisations in the UK will have adopted flexible working policies.
So while all this sounds great in theory, does this mean that these flexible employees must immediately make a trip to B&Q to build out an extensive home office with mahogany desk, array of office machinery and a book-case full of leather-bound books to complete the study effect? Of course aside from the obvious conclusion that it is not possible for everyone to work effectively from home due to a variety of reasons; I would argue that every corporate commuter should consider checking out their local coworking office at least one day a week.
Why? – My 5 reasons for commuters to cowork:
1. Let’s start with a biggie. Save your most important commodity and one that no money can buy back which is time. If you take the average commute to work in the south East England including London to being around 90 minutes a day, then if you reduce that commute to say 10 minutes each way by working locally one day a week, that would save you an 56 hours a year or about 2 ½ full days of your life. Spend that saved commuting time doing something more beneficial such as spending time with family or getting down the gym.
2. Linked to number one, but as well saving time, you can save yourself the downright unpleasantness* of navigating daily trains and traffic jams.
*I have had many pleasant train journeys, but given the option of driving to the train station, parking at the station, braving the elements while waiting for said train, usually standing while on the train, walking to the underground, getting on the underground and walking to work. It just doesn’t stack up vs. a 20 minute walk, 10 minute cycle or 5 minute drive…
3. Linked to number 2. Get fitter – consider walking or cycling to your local coworking hub and have a positive impact on the environment
(Mid list break – I can almost hear some readers saying, “well this all sounds great, but why should I just save some time off my commute by going to a coworking office, when I can crush it altogether by staying at home?) that leads me nicely on to…
4. The upmost beauty of spending time at a coworking hub is the ability to meet a real range of new people from different backgrounds, industries and professions who can open your eyes to different ideas, opportunities and ways of doing things. Coworking hubs are often seen as great places for freelancers and other self-employed ‘solopreneurs’ to make contacts, gain leads and win new business (which they can be) but they are more than that. For commuters from Corporate X who might spend 90% of their working lives just talking with their other colleagues from Corporate X, about issues and problems solely to do with Corporate X, there is a huge obvious benefit from having easy access to the experience, skills and knowledge of professionals from other companies and sectors. Every corporate team talks about benchmarking and learning of ‘best practices’ outside of their particular sector, but this often get pushed down to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list. Simply spend some time talking to new coworkers over coffee and you will undoubtedly learn something.
5. Be a more productive and happier employee. This is a big statement and it isn’t meant to sound like visiting your local coworking office a few days a week is like finding the golden egg or a fast-track to million-pound annual salary. It is however a third string in the bow that every employee should consider adding to their working practice armory to work more effectively. On days you want to avoid a long commute, as well as sitting through those unnecessary meetings with your colleagues precipitated simply by you being present at your desk. Or days when you want to avoid the distractions and loneliness of working by yourself at home and want to expand your personal and professional network by meeting and working alongside a group of like-minded others.
The way we work as a corporate employee is changing. Even if your employer isn’t a flexible working advocate now, the likelihood is they will be soon or you should be talking to them. If you are a regular commuter, I would urge you to consider find your local coworking office, or if there isn’t a permanent office in your area, there will undoubtedly be a coworking group or informal working ‘jelly’
For those commuters reading this and living near Maidenhead in Berkshire, you would be very welcome to join us at our next Coworking Maidenhead event on Wednesday 11 January.
Let us know if you agree or disagree, or have any other reasons to add to the list.