The rules of commuting are changing for the better

Written by: Stephen Wise | Published:
Stephen Wise at Dublin's Energia plant

I started in the waste and resource sector in the 1990s and since then it has evolved significantly, driven by changes in regulatory and policy requirements, the introduction of new technology and swings in the global geo political landscape.

Over the same time the workplace has also changed with a greater need for knowledge sharing, more flexible working, less job security and changes in communications technology which has led to new opportunities for employment and career development.

My career path since starting has taken a number of twists and turns, with some planned and some not, but all taken as a positive opportunity to shape my career in a direction that I wanted to take. As my time in the workplace has progressed, I have changed my approach to my personal well-being, my flexibility, travelling habits and the impact on the environment around me. I consider myself to have been fortunate in having a career that has allowed me to broaden my horizons, travel extensively and work with some truly excellent individuals and organisations.

I have worked for leading waste management companies, through the world of consultancy and into the renewables and energy sector – all linked but significantly different in terms of culture.I have been able to see the workplace from both sides of the fence as part of an organisation and working for myself.

My journey started on the contractor side in waste management where I spent a considerable amount of my time on the road travelling to operational sites and clients around both the UK and Europe. Following this, I spent time within the consultancy sector which again meant frequent travel around the UK and further afield to see clients and projects. My operational experience which proved to be invaluable in understanding the client’s perspective on many projects – always a good thing when you are a consultant.

Spending time working for different organisations both large and small, working for operators and consultants and building experience spanning business development, engineering, operations and management meant that I was able to look ahead with greater flexibility for my next career move which came in a rather unexpected direction from across the Irish sea.

In late 2017, I was approached about a challenging opportunity leading an energy utility into the bioenergy market and would require a broad range of technical, operational and management experience.The only catch was that the role was based in Dublin.

Yet after meeting the directors and senior management, I was convinced that this was the right role that would allow me to make the jump to start my own business and enable me to take that next step in creating my own flexible working career. The key was then working out the logistics for travel and accommodation which proved surprisingly easy as low cost flights and flexible accommodation were all at the click of a few buttons online.

Being close to both Liverpool and Manchester airports means that I have easy access to both Dublin and Belfast.With respect to staying away long term I did not want to live out of a suitcase in a hotel so I found a number of apps and websites that provided lodgings like extended B&B but with the ability to book them for a long period of time which makes it easy to create a base and leave items meaning travelling light becomes easy.I now have my own space but can easily interact with others and have on hand knowledge of places to visit and things to do in and around Dublin.

The advent of improved communications technology means that working has become more flexible and that it is not always necessary to be in the same place for conference calls, reviewing documents or catching up with emails.

Being away between Monday and Thursday night has meant that I now value my time in a different way and that weekends are reserved for ensuring I have quality downtime with family, friends or even just pottering.It means that I can focus completely on work during the work and find that I am generally more productive while ensuring I am looking after my wellbeing at the weekends and charging my batteries.

It has taken a little time to get used to but working in this manner and being prepared to be flexible on where I am based means I am now open to greater cultural experiences.

I am building friendship networks here and I am seeing both Ireland and Northern Ireland more as a local rather than just as a tourist, meaning I am getting much more out of the cultural experience. Going forward, I am more open to working in other locations abroad in the same way.

Stephen Wise is bioenergy director at Energia.

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