Stuck in the Slow Lane

I had the misfortune to go to a really crappy meeting first thing in the morning last Monday. As I left the house at half past insane o’clock I could not foresee that the meeting was going to be as crappy as it turned out, but I was pretty sure the journey into London would be. Sure enough, the train was packed, the bus was packed, and the tube was packed too. Rush hour sucks.

As I was jostled from raised armpit to raised armpit, and from book cover to scowling face, I started to dream in an attempt to escape the drudgery. My mind wandered back to the few golden weeks of the Olympics and Paralympics in London last year. We were fortunate to spectate at the games a few times and as usual I was in and out of London for work too, but I did not dream of sporting endeavour as I reflected on this time. No, instead I dreamed of emptier trains, buses and tubes, and easier journeys.

In the run up to the 2012 games there were significant fears that the London transport system wouldn’t cope. The fears were misplaced, and even though during that golden period of sporting excellence, the transport networks of London carried record extra numbers of passengers, for a few short weeks, getting around London felt easier. No longer did we feel compelled to jam ourselves in the tube and struggle to our desks for a 09:00 start. Contingency plans were made, and something approaching a city wide flexible working dream briefly became a reality. Businesses worked smarter.

The population of London continues to grow so we need to manage transport flows better before the whole network disappears up its own proverbial arse sometime soon. We have the technology which should facilitate more smarter working, so why aren’t businesses responding more smartly? Among all the advances we’ve seen in recent generations, how we work is stuck pretty much at the back of the line. In fact, it’s not even at the back of the line, how we work is sitting all alone in the corner of the playground of advancement, sulking and wondering why no one wants to play anymore.

A smarter approach to flexible working = an easier journey to and from work. Is there anyone who wouldn’t appreciate that? We know we can do it – we’ve seen it happen………….. and as suddenly as it had begun, my dream of a better journey to and from work faded. I was back in reality being spewed from the underground station as if no more than a tiny particle in a huge pile of human vomit. Sorry, but that’s just how rush hour and our approach to work in the 21st century sometimes makes me feel.

photo credit

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

3 thoughts on “Stuck in the Slow Lane”

  1. Punching a hole in economic borders around the de facto country we call London so the work is spread more evenly across the country might be a better start.

    Root causes and all that. Easy to say.



    1. Why not try both, and more besides. I like the sound of your suggestion and I bet there are a bunch of useful experiments we could conduct to spread things around better, help things flow better too.

  2. I am always keen to root out false choices. Doing both is almost always the right answer.

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