Office in motion

Office in motion

Andy Polaine recently emailed, noting a work habit I wasn’t familiar with:

Some of my Swiss colleagues even take the train somewhere for a couple of hours just to use it as an office. They have lunch in their destination city and then come back again, work done. There’s an interesting aspect to this — they all have a General Abonnement, which is like a season ticket.

More on this on his site:

In Switzerland you can buy a season ticket called a General Abonnement. It seems that almost everyone who lives in Switzerland has one. The 2nd class adult one is CHF 3,100 per year (about £1,850 or US$3,050). So it’s not cheap, but it’s a one-off outlay. When you talk to people about their train usage, one if the things they say is that love taking the train because because it’s free (that and the trains in Switzerland are punctual and pleasant). This sense of it being ‘free’ means people are much more spontaneous with their train travel because they no longer think about the cost or hassle of buying tickets. Even if you don’t think of it as free, the effect is like an all-you-can-eat buffet — people have spent the money, so they try and get the most out of it, which encourages the use of public transport.

I certainly get more work done on public transport. A friend and I theorize it’s not only because there are fewer distractions, but because the physical workspace itself is moving forward. Making progress on two dimensions. Constraints are also of value. All my essays, for instance, are written on the train between home and the office. When my stop comes, it must be done. With the cost perception removed (and a bit of Swiss scenery), I might choose an office in motion more often.