I listened to Kevin Anderson talk about climate change. He is Professor of Energy and Climate Change at the University of Manchester.
Addressing the issue of how we might reduce flight travel, he described his own experience. He hasn’t flown since 2004. A recent trip to China was by train – it took him 11 days to get there, and he remained working there for a while after his meeting before returning to the UK. Similarly, a trip to Iceland was made via a container ship (how exciting), and he extended his stay there for a further 2 weeks to minimise the effect of his own carbon emission travelling.
Challenged about his ability to travel in this way – because his business is climate change, so surely this makes it easy for him to travel like this – he refuted the suggestion that only he was in a position to do this. While he believed that most of his colleagues would say that this style of travelling isn’t possible, he suggested that by doing it, they could all prove that it was.
Commendable as this discussion was to the subject of climate change – Professor Anderson’s world – my mind wandered to how this principle of travel might be applied to my own world of work. Alongside the notion of agile working, how might I think more seriously about finding and taking opportunities to appear virtually, rather than in person, when possible? Virtual meetings, dialing in for a telephone or video call, even choosing not to attend (for all the right reasons)? Yes, some of this is sometimes possible. Locating for a whole day at a particular work location, rather than travelling to and fro between several in the same day? Perfectly doable. Working from home – which coincidentally not only eliminates my need for travel, but also sees me being able to pack so much more into my working day? Absolutely – very much appreciated that I can do this occasionally, and entirely feasible if I manage my workload well.
And what makes this possible? Having support to work in an agile way, and also, exactly what Professor Anderson suggests – doing it, and proving that it works.
Thank you Kevin.