As a remote worker, someone who has done the commute into London for a number of years, but is now ‘location independent’, the title of this piece really struck a chord with me when I saw it posted on social media.
Having worked for myself, largely from home for the past two years, taking the step to move my business abroad was not a difficult one. I’d always been within easy reach of London, where most of my clients were located, but actually found the days I spent on client site to the be the least productive. I valued the face time but found the travel a waste of time, as well as exhausting.
So when we decided to make the move out of the UK, I considered it an easy step. My clients weren’t quite so confident, with one or two worried about my availability. However the joy of technology is that is makes you hyper available – Skype for Busienss is a great tool and I’ve used it for one on one meetings, video calls and video conferencing. I also use personal Skype for work calls and have found Google Hangouts to be a great tool – although users do all need to have a Gmail account to use it.
I recently headed back to the UK to cram in some client meetings and was struck by how inefficient my days were. Travel around London is not conducive to getting work done and whilst the face to face time was valuable and enabled me to problem solve directly with clients, the loss of productivity was clear. I also don’t find London an inspiring place to be. One thing I have learned is that when you are brainstorming strategy and content, you need to be in a place than enables you to think. Worrying about whether your train is going to be late, or about the constant background buzz of office life is not conducive to producing your best work!
In fact, I find most modern offices have a negative effect on my ability to produce good work. Being in the same place every day, day after day just produces the same work, day after of day. In the era of the knowledge economy, it’s not just turning the handle, but about producing – whether that be content, strategies or planning. A lot of my time is spent thinking about solutions – not just staring at a screen, but brainstorming, conceiving and, dare I say it, dreaming. Being sat in the same place every day does not help that process. Changing up your working environment is a great way to clear the blockages and to come up with new ways of thinking. I also often find going for a walk is a good way to sort through solutions and develop ideas.
So, what have I learned from the past few months working from France? Mountains are inspiring places, but being sat looking at the same vie every day, no matter where you are, doesn’t help with the creative process – sometimes you do need a change of scenery. Having said all that, it’s still far better for my output to NOT be in London on a daily basis – travelling is not a productive use of time!