The forthcoming Agile Working Event, http://agileworkingevent.com/, 29 March 2017 in London prompted me to pen my thoughts on the subject of agile working.
What exactly is agile working and where does it begin?
The traditional habit of having to travel to an office every day, shackled by 9 to 5 working hours, with little room for flexibility in how you meet the expectations of what you are being paid for, is the antipathy of agile working.
Many are constrained by their working hours and location but one’s internal mind-set is not subject to the same restrictions and control. You are in control of your purpose and approach; you alone!
My history teacher once told me off for talking in class. He said “Miss Lamont, whereas I cannot control what goes on in that head of yours, to remain in this class I will control when and what comes out of your mouth!”
How strong was that threat? It simple re-iterated what I already knew: I have all the control of what goes on in my mind and I can choose if and when to share it. Obviously in his classroom that would be vocally challenged but inside my head I was free as a bird to play with my thoughts.
This freedom of thought continued throughout my career. I have been fortunate to experience employment in several global blue chip organisations, mid-size and start-up firms. Each time I was able to make the job my own and mould the objectives set to accommodate my personal style. Trust to deliver prevailed.
Obviously working in a creative and analytical field lends itself to more freedom of approach than some other roles. However what I have learned from the various environments I have worked in, and not all were inclusive or fair, is that you are always in control of how you achieve your objectives. Creativity within the rules is a gift given to you by your agile mind.
This obviously is not attractive to everyone, but that’s the up-side of choice.
Throughout my career I have been able to combine my passions with my talents. I like research, reading, writing and meeting people.
I began my career in traditional consulting and market analysis. It enabled me to combine my love of travelling, reading, solving puzzles, making sense out of disparate facts and creating something new.
I never considered the fact that being a woman would prevent me being considered for any of the roles I have held, even though I did not get every job I applied for. I had my disappointments to deal with, of course, but considered that all part of the process. I had confidence (or was that naivety?) and knew what I could do, and what I could not do, and was selective in what I applied for.
My attitude to job hunting was that if I could not convince myself the role was right for me how could I expect someone else to take that chance on me.
My mind and spirit to do a good job was strong and agile. I have always been flexible with my time and worked whatever hours were required to do the job. The only timekeeping restraint for me was to achieve enough within the deadline.
Flexibility to do my job, how, when and where was always one of the questions I asked at the end of the interview when invited to do so.
If shackles and a dark basement room were on offer then I knew that job would not be for me. Did I consider it a wasted interview? No another just another piece in life’s jigsaw puzzle.
I made mistakes, many in fact: where what was on offer did not turn out to meet the illusion or I was not the right fit. No blame for anyone it just happens sometimes and a clash of personality or even a mis-match in the definition of integrity can occur in certain workplaces. Self-belief will see anyone through this reality if it happens to them.
Having ascended many steps on my career ladder my footing is still firm. I am an agile worker, executive ‘gigger’, consultant – call it what you like but it is truly flexible and rewarding. I now work for a successful virtual consultancy – Quidnunc which attracts like-minded, mature and agile workers with a passion for what they do, not where they do it from.
The deadlines are strict, our clients have high expectations and we all travel between three satellite offices: London, Ireland and Spain. We rarely meet face to face thanks to the development of virtual presence technology. The internet’s reach and speed of communications and the various other messaging facilities means one no longer needs to be location restrained to meet your objectives.
This for me is agile working and I was made for it. I have control, I get to do what I love and I love what I do. I spend most of my limited amount of free time reading, researching interesting topics and writing, which in turn helps me professionally.
Advances in technology have disrupted the workplace as I knew it.
Today, my tray at the airport contains heeled shoes, mobile phones, tablets, laptops and keys! I can be invisible, yet be in touch with my clients and colleagues at all times (flights, meetings and sleep time, the only exceptions). My availability switch is always on.
When I embarked on my latest role my best friend sent me a card. It had a pretty cover with no words. Inside it simply said “I wish you enough” your BFF.
The ability to work with agility gives me enough – enough of everything I need – personal satisfaction, motivation, freedom and security in mind and pocket too!
This is my definition of “Agile Working” today and the transition I imagine more people will make where they have the choice.