Agile – Why live like chickens?

I was in the merry old land of London a few weeks ago attending the #LPLive – an event hosted by our e-learning provider Learning Pool Live.

So, off I go on my dark 6.15am train from Poole all the way to the big smoke. It was the fast train that made a hand full of stops, with the last being Winchester before we arrived in London.

The train slowly filled up until the penultimate stop in Winchester, when, if you were a claustrophobic, the situation would have been uncomfortable, at best.

How the other half live. My world is a 15 minute arc – 15 mins to the school to drop my daughter off and 15 mins to the door of my office – and the same in reverse as soon as 2.30pm arrives, well, more like 2.45pm with a slight jog. I have a car with 2 seats, one for me and one for mini me. I am lucky to live in an area of the country with good transport links, and although there is some queuing, its usually moving and a majority of the time, not hostile, although there were these kids on scooters the other day…..I digress.

So I am on this busy train, taking it all in.

This is ‘the’ commute – the journey millions complain about, get stressed about and they even make programmes about. This is that journey to a place of work that people make every day, in the early hours with the sunshine just beginning to peer over the rolling British countryside. People on laptops getting some e-mails done before they officially start their day, some with papers, books, ipods. All sat together in a little metal tunnel spreading across the land.

So

We get to Waterloo – all embark and head in the direction of the station. Lots of steely faced emotional blank sheets, pushing and jossiling to get to the right place at the right time, and before the person next to them has the opportunity to overtake.

I had made the decision to take the tube. No stranger to London, however I didn’t feel comfortable walking to Morgate. I had never been there before. Journey planned, I head in the direction of the Jubilee Line. I head straight into the path of 3 rather long ques. Queuing, I can do queuing – why it is the most British of British things, beside drinking tea and moaning about the weather/government/dustbin collections etc.

Slowly, well every fee minutes the que eases forward and we eventually get on the tube – a couple of stops and its off at London Bridge to catch the Northern Line to Morgate.

What was this madness. My one regret was that I didn’t take a picture to share with you reader. There was no que, just a large huddle surrounding each area where a door would be when the next train arrived.

When the train did arrive there were faces pressed against the glass – reminiscent of a Mr Bean sketch. I was the only one on the platform laughing in disbelief. As each train rolled into the station, more people attempted to fit themselves on the carriages like some horrific game of drunken Christmas twister, but with about 200 other people all tired and pissed off already as they have been travelling since the early hours to get to a job that they probably hate because the spend so much of their life getting there…every…single…day.

More pushing and shoving, it was a real dog eat dog situation. I realised that regardless of my personal space, or my hatred of impolite me first mentality, if I didn’t put my self in the middle of it, there was no hope of me getting to the event in time. So I picked what seemed like the less busy (oh the irony) the less busy door right at the front and waited. 4 trains later and I was on, to be greeted by the armpit of a poor man, sweating with the heat and the proximity of all those bodies underground. It was hideous.

The the train pulls into Bank, and nearly everyone gets off the train.

All those people, collectively, each day suffering to get on a train full of other people suffering, all at the same time, to fulfull the need for an employer to keep a tab of an asset it is paying to do a job.

WHY…. this is utter madness people.

I am looking forward to a future where agile working is the norm, a natural introvert, I thrive on my own solitude and personal space. I like comfort and I would be more at peace with my work if it was in a more harmonic existence  with my life. But the people of London NEED more agile working, and they need it today. They needed it yesterday. Making that journey every single day can not be good for the collective well being of a city.

I have recently been doing a bit of work around the introduction of agile working, and why, if it can be done it should be done.

If you are a manager who buys free-range, responsibly farmed meat. If you don’t like to see those images of battery hens, spending their lives in squalid conditions for most of their lives. If you care about the environment then you must start looking at a future where your workforce is not made to make such ridiculous journeys. Imagine slashing the number of daily commuters by over half. Reductions in global emissions. Happier, less stressed people, not claiming sick pay for stress related illnesses. We would see a national reduction in GP appointments – less medication being dished out for stress like smarties.

People, we collectively need to take the plunge and make that first step – D x V x FS >R.

Chicken  People of London, stop living like chickens!


The interest in Agile working has been met with the production of numerous journal articles, studies and reports asking the what are the benefits, what does success look like and how can this be introduced to the workforce.

Chartered Institute of Personal Development (CIPD) Press release November 2014

Organisations urged to embrace agile working to combat diminished significance of work in people’s lives

The Agile Future Forum

Under the direction of the government, the Agile Future Forum was established by Sir Winfried Bischoff and consists of Chief Executives and Chairmen from leading employers to consider the issue of workforce agility and how UK business might support the growth of workforce agility across UK. We have linked to their findings page which looks at the value of Agile working to an organisation.

The Agile Future Forum Findings

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