For over two years now, I don’t have a home. Not a home as in a house of course, but at adidas I don’t have an office, a desk or a landline any more, all I have is a nice bag – and the freedom to work from wherever I want. And I have to admit it’s wonderfully liberating!

OK, I do have an exceptional job at adidas, as the Think Tank Future Trends and Innovation Director in the HR Strategy Team. My job is to try and look two, five, 10, 20 years ahead, analyze the mega trends like demographic change, glocalization, future technologies, production and business models, and draw conclusions what that will mean for the future of work and the future of organizations. In order to do that, I have to try out and experience future working models – and I have to admit that I love it!

Journey into the future

My daily business is to think, talk and try out future working. I have to experience it myself.

My job consists of a lot of research, networking, conversations and collaborations, and since I’ve liberated myself from the constraints of a fixed, physical work office space to a flexible and dynamic work model, I feel that I get much more done in less time and that I have increased my efficiency and productivity.

Instead of a desk in a small room, I have a large bag with everything I need inside, like laptop and tablet, headphones, cables, pens, battery pack, sticky notes, tape, my main paper calendar and paper notebook – I still love to write and draw. Everything else is on my smartphone.

These are my business essentials. In my daily work, I blend physical and digital tools to be as efficient as possible.
Visualization through sketches on paper is my approach to creative thinking. Ideas can hit you anywhere, so make sure to always have your work essentials with you.
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So how does an average work day look for me?

If I don’t work from home or travel, I come in in the morning with my utility bag, grab a coffee and settle at one of the standing tables in my favorite work area in the middle of the atrium: the marketplace or agora of our main building called Laces at the World of Sports, the HQ of the adidas Group in Herzo.

This open space called ‘Elvis’ is directly in front of our café ‘TimeOut’ with great coffee, healthy snacks and drinks. Elvis also hosts the stage on which we run our weekly Speaker Series and an assortment of standing tables (with power cords hanging down from above), colorful collaboration boxes and a living room as open meeting room. The perfect environment for me.
I have much fewer hour-long meetings, but instead 20, 30 ‘creative collisions’ each day, when colleagues just grab me for a coffee when they see me standing at one of the desks, and most issues you can solve in five to 15 minutes.

The typical morning of a working nomad: Grab a coffee and look for a place which suits your mood.
The beauty of creative collisions: You bump into each other out of context and suddenly a new idea is born.
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If I do want to concentrate and work with focus on something for a while, I either go to another more private area, where I’m less visible and approachable, or I put on headphones to signal that I don’t want to be bothered right now. Of course we have team meetings regularly, but for these we come together for a very focused hour, to then flutter off to our individual work environments again. And if I do need a room once in a while, for telephone or Skype conferences, for example, I just grab an empty desk in any department – a great way to meet new colleagues, by the way – or I get a short-term meeting room, if available.

Another great side effect of my nomadic life is that, since I don’t have an office any more, I have become almost paperless: when you carry your office around with you all day, you do consider carefully every additional gram you want to have with you. And I’m very digital. For most things there’s a great app that automates my workflow, I take pictures of essential documents or drawings, so everything is on my Evernote or in the cloud. And whatever is missing I can google – or borrow.

 So what are my main recommendations?

  • Firstly, what works for me doesn’t have to work for you – and vice versa. Everyone has to find his or her personal working model and balance, and that allows you to do your job best. Different jobs also require different working models and environments.
  • Secondly, it’s about choice. Choose the environment that supports what you want to do in different moments of your working day best, be it concentrating, calling, meeting, collaborating, thinking, resting, digesting or creating.
  • Go as digital as possible – but find the right balance between digital and physical. Everything that can be digitalized will be digitalized – but not everything that can be digitalized actually makes sense or is the better experience. Get a good pen or sharpie and doodle while you google…
  • Be open and bold and go out and experiment, try out and experience different and new work environments to find out what works best for you and your job. And don’t limit yourself to options within the company: go out and co-work, crowdstorm, collaborate…

In the end it’s only a matter of perspective: the other day, a senior executive grabbed me in Elvis and asked me “Christian, do you actually still have an office?” And I replied: “Tom, look around: my office is not only nicer than yours, with better coffee, but it’s actually much bigger than yours as well!”

So honestly: when you finish reading this article, look around your office and ask yourself if you wouldn’t rather like to trade places with me…

I have to admit: I wouldn’t – and couldn’t – go back to the old office I had a few years ago!

How to keep learning when your day is packed

Christian shares websites, apps, tricks and behaviors that can help.

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by Goncalo 16.11.2016
Hello Christian,

I want to move to a nomadic lifestyle, changing between traveling time and office time. In your oppinion, what are the best work type to do in the move? Creative work? Freelancer? Or work for Adidas like you?

Thanks for the great article.
Reply
by Christian Goncalo 18.11.2016
Hi Goncalo, that really depends on your job - and what your company allows. In general, it happens faster in the more creative jobs, and consultancies etc. Or, of course, as a freelancer. I believe this will affect more and more jobs in the future, but the less your job needs to rely on physical machines, special equipment etc and the more flexible and mobile you are, the more independent you can work. And yes, at adidas there are already quite a few people working like this, and the number is growing ...
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by Goncalo Christian 13.02.2017
Thanks for your answer, I appreciate it.

I work in marketing / Sports Data, so it's something I am really looking for.
I believe this is the future, and the freedom you get is the one thing I know it'll make a big difference in my quality of life.
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by Nadine 17.11.2016
Really interesting to hear the first hand experience on this new way of working! I think a lot of comfort zones will have to be expanded and a lot of old ways left behind until everyone of us will work like this. But I do think flexible working environments and hours will be the reality in the future. Curious to see how long it takes.
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by Mukund Dudani 01.12.2016
Dear Christian,

I was reading your article and couldn't help not comment as this is one of the very few write-ups that clearly articulates how exactly a free working environment helps leverage the best of one's competencies.

Although its not cut out as each has their own preferred working style.. what is important is the freedom and tolerance to individual's working style.
I can totally relate to it .. The transfer to technology takes a little time to transform to, and is a huge power to harness to keep oneself nimble at work ..

Thanks for sharing!
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by Gabriela Moscoso 12.02.2017
Just brilliant Christian!, thanks for sharing in such a fun way how you work... I am currently thinking about my next career stage after completing my MBA in England, a friend of mine works for a start-up and she regularly goes to different co-working spaces in London, so I decided to join her for a couple days a week, not only I found myself much more focused on doing what I need to, but also found out my creativity is enhanced by the environment, I even have collaborated with my friend for a couple of her projects.
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by Andreea Hirica 27.09.2017
Hi Christian,

That's both inciting and inspiring.
I would be very interested to read also some of your trends reports, insights, findings from scouting into the 10-20 years future in such creatively inciting ways.
Thanks,
Andreea
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Nina Weihrauch
Nina Weihrauch | Editor Andreea Hirica 14.11.2017
Hi Andreea,

thanks for your comment. Did you already read this story on adidas' trend report: https://www.gameplan-a.com/2017/03/5-trends-will-shape-future-health-fitness/ and this one https://www.gameplan-a.com/2017/03/biohacking-creating-2-0/ ?

Best regards,

Nina
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