Earlier this week I started my working day here. In White Mulberries, a coffee shop I’d never been to before, overlooking London’s St. Katharine Docks.
The coffee was good, the atmosphere friendly, and it gave me the fuel for what was a busy day ahead, walking to a meeting south of Tower Bridge, taking the tube to Paddington, and later walking across the city from Hyde Park to Soho.
It’s a pattern I often follow, moving around the city. My work life is nomadic. I spend the day visiting clients or working out of coffee shops, green spaces or my members’ club.
This way of working suits me. It aligns with my role of an ‘outsider’ which is where I bring value to the people, teams and organisations I work with.
Being nomadic means I don’t get stuck in a bubble. And as I’m always floating around I get to experience new spaces. This helps my ideas flow. Never in one place for too long, I don’t get that stale feeling that might be experienced by those who work in the same office every day. I never find myself yawning, bored of my surroundings.
Yesterday I worked out of seven different spaces: four meetings, two coffee shops and one hotel lobby (not including the work I did in tube and train carriages). It’s the change of place that keeps me fresh.
This year I’ve probably worked out of fifty different coffee shops in cities around the UK (and it’s only September). Add to that the hotels, offices and spaces where I’ve done work, or delivered workshops, and I reckon that takes the number of different spaces to around 75.
75 different spaces in under 9 months! Often going to brand new places like White Mulberries. It’s the opposite of Groundhog Day. Those new places prompt new thoughts and ideas.
You might be reading this and think this way of working is only an option for the self-employed consultant. Not so. Yesterday I had a catch-up with a guy who works for a global tech company. He has the option of working from company buildings in two different locations, plus working from home. When he’s in the building he’s nomadic like me, moving around with his backpack rather than have a fixed desk. He might work on the roof terrace, by the canteen, in a quiet area for a call, or in a communal space.
A nomadic work life keeps me fresh and makes me productive. As soon as I feel my energy levels plummet, I move somewhere else. Working this way, I don’t go to the office, I am my office.
So what you can do to be more nomadic in your work life? If you’re a freelancer who spends most of your week working at home, get out! If you work in an organisation, try and move around. See how a change in environment fuels your work.