Have you ever commuted to the office to attend a meeting, only to wish you hadn’t? Have you ever joined a meeting remotely, only to realize that you should have been there in person? If you answer yes to those questions, this article is for you.
We are more than a year into full-blown multi-persona flexible work. I’ve written about the topic on many occasions already. The article will go deep and attempt to solve a very specific problem. But first, who is this for?
- Some of you work full-time remote and regular commuting isn’t an option. Going into the office means going to the airport.
- Some of you work full-time in the office.
- Some of you work a fixed hybrid schedule. You are in the office for specifically assigned days of the week. You don’t have a choice.
If I’ve described you already, then feel free to keep reading, but you probably don’t deal with this issue as often.
The rest of you have flexibility. You get to decide when and where you work. That sounds really lovely and it is. But, with that power, comes responsibility, and some new problems. Let’s dive in.
I love working from home: I can focus. I don’t get interrupted. I can have lunch with my family. I get to avoid a long commute in terrible traffic.
I love working in the office: I see my co-workers in three dimensions! I connect with people impromptu. I get face time with VIPs. I can have lunch with coworkers. Our office campus is actually quite nice.
Both are great. This is not an article to pit one choice over another. For the sake of this exercise, let’s just call it even.
For me, the commute is a big deal. I live 30 miles from the office and drive straight through from one end of the metro to the other. Choosing to commute is a 2-hour decision at a minimum. I’m willing to make that investment, but it must be worth it.
After all, I’ve proven to myself and others that I can effectively do my job remotely. But, in certain circumstances, I can be even more effective in person.
First, I’ll list the circumstances that are generally not worth the commute:
- Attending a meeting where most of the people are remote.
- Attending a meeting where I’m not the one leading it.
- Recurring staff meetings, status meetings, 1:1s, etc.
Now, here are the meetings that are worth the drive:
- I’m leading the meeting, and most of the people will be in person.
- Other people got on planes to come to the meeting.
- There are VIPs that will be there in person.
- Strategic meetings that last more than two hours.
- Team building.
- It would mean a lot to the other attendees if I were there.
Impact and Productivity
It goes without saying that from a productivity standpoint alone, commuting is a waste of time. However, that doesn’t take impact into consideration.
I remember who flew 1,000 miles to come to my wedding. I remember who drove five hours each way to watch me walk across the stage for 15 seconds when I graduated.
Woody Allen once said, “Showing up is 80% of life.” As leaders, we have an opportunity to make an impact with our physical presence.
Of course, it works the other way too. I can make a bigger impact on the people in my personal life, if I’m spending time with them in person, instead of calling them from the office, or on my long drive home.
Time to act
Ideally, I’d love to cluster all my in-person meetings together on a few days to get the most bang for my commute buck. Sometimes, that works. Other times, I drive all the way in just for one important meeting. But guess what, that one meeting was the one most important thing for the day, so it’s okay.
I love productivity. I really do. But I love making an impact even more.
How are you doing on this subject? Not batting 1000? That’s okay. I’m not either. But I’m intentional and I try to anticipate and plan ahead the best I can. When I get it wrong, I take note so I can do better next time.