I was just discussing how the working environment has changed over the last 30 years with a friend. That time seems like a lifetime ago to the young of today. After all it’s actually as long ago as the Second World War was to me when I was young!
What led to our chat, was that flexible working was in the news this week, and it is of course completely superb. Some people still try to hang on to the adage “if you are not in the office, how can you be working?” Come on, it’s just a logical evolution! When I started in 1984, we had to go to an office as there was no email, no electronic transfer of documents, no mobile phones. Back then we had to drive and meet people just to exchange documents. If we were late or in traffic, we had no way of telling people! It doesn’t take long to appreciate that productivity has changed drastically. Offices only really evolved because of the need to communicate, and originally 9 to 5 came about historically as a response to the industrial revolution. Prior to this, most people earned money through tasks, ie paid piece meal. Technology is now reversing the 9 to 5, where task completion is more important than time spent.
I think graduates of today should be forced to work in the 1980s for a week to understand how things have improved. Of course, no mobile phones or tablets would be allowed, and you have to wear appropriate clothing!
Let us have a bit of nostalgia to entertain. What great times! Communicating around a big company back then involved paper pads with carbon copy paper! Yes that’s what cc means! We had to write memos, and put them in envelopes and send them in the internal mail. We then twiddled our thumbs for a week to see if anything happened!
Back then bum-pinching was totally accepted, and I never really minded it, unless I was carrying coffee! Working in IT was new and exciting. In a big corporation it was still a real blue suit job, although not as much as the 1950s. However, it was expected you wear a blue or dark suit. I was involved in one of the first email systems and used to have to work some crazy hours getting systems set-up. I have a great memory of visiting a client in New York, with 3 colleagues. For those who haven’t been to NY, it is quite a city like no other. It is THE American city, and epitomises all you see of the USA on TV, which is how I learnt about the continent. Starksy and Hutch!
We had to meet the client’s USA leaders, and it was arranged to be in NY. The client’s boss flew over from London on Concorde! How cool. Actually, that’s one thing that hasn’t got better with time.
We were all in our sharp suits with our briefcases (holding our documents and presentation foils!) Foils you ask! “What are those, grandad?”
Search for them on the interweb thing!
We were like Mr Brown, Mr Pink etc from Reservoir dogs, strutting along Madison Avenue to our meeting. As we did, we walked past this guy in a white t-shirt, with a packet of cigarettes tucked into his sleeve and leaning against a lamp-post. Very James Dean!
He shouted at us all in a great accent…
“Where yall you guys going? Going to do some busy ness???? …….. Take no mercy guys, tear their ******** hearts out!”
Nice I thought, a bit different to Bracknell!
What interesting times. Anyway we won the business!
Some things haven’t changed in the workplace. There is always the office psycho or two. I remember one guy, who was definitely a winner! We used to play various sports as a department, volley ball, 5-a-side football and hockey. We used to often play mixed matches socially. There was one game where said gentleman was the goalie, and was out of position just as one of the opposing ladies was about to tap the ball into the net from 1 yard to score. There was no way in hell he was going to let the ball in. He absolutely trounced her, thus saving us going 1-nil down. Well done **** we had to win! (name withheld to save embarrassment).
But simply my most memorable week abroad was one trip to Nice, France. Late on one Friday night my colleague, John, and I were called to attend a series of meetings starting on Monday morning. So we had to book flights quickly.
Unfortunately it was Cannes film week, and flights were hard to get. We had to eventually book Easyjet flights from Luton, which was a pain in the bum to get to from where we lived. Little did we know that this was just the start of a trip that would never be forgotten!
Firstly, the plane left four hours late meaning that we arrived into Nice at 2am Monday morning!
Secondly, John, whilst waiting for his bag to come around at baggage claim, suddenly realised that someone had taken his bag, and an identical one was left on the carousel! This turned out to be a bag belonging to a lady! We managed to get contact details from inside the bag, but couldn’t get hold of her.
We were 5 miles from the hotel, no taxis, and John had a bag of knickers and bras. We walked to the hotel, arrived knackered, with only 3 hours to the client meeting. What would we do. I said, “you are going to have to go as my assistant, Joanne!”
John got over the clothes issue and the lady got in contact the next day. She was unsurprisingly more concerned about getting her bag!
On the Wednesday we both went to a bar, and my friend got threatened, and we had to leave quickly!
Finally after a long week, we got back on the plane.
We sat down and looked at each other, and sighed. “Phew, that was a tough week. Glad to be getting home soon”
Just as we said these words, another passenger got on-board, and immediately fell over next to us, puking!! He was drunk. It was a mess. The result, a two hour delay!
News this week.
My wife, Jean, suffers from a syndrome that is really really annoying, and that is
“Moving things that I have put somewhere!”
This is a terrible affliction. It happens all the time, and I think she just doesn’t realise the mental damage and exhaustion it causes. The other day, I was searching for my cycle sunglasses as part of my 30 minute get ready process for a trike ride routine. I ******* knew where I left them, but they weren’t there!! Aargh. I searched everywhere, going up and downstairs, but to no avail. My lack of speedy mobility dragged this search out, but eventually I found them in a glasses bag that Jean had hung up under a shelf in the kitchen!! Deep breath!
“Just *** leave things where they are!!”
The tragic part of Jean’s syndrome is she also does it to herself. Where did I put my glasses? I hear this, and I start to fume, “now you know what it feels like!”
“Where are my glasses?????” – In the bag within a bag within your 14th handbag
“I’m ok now Lee. ” Good for you!
I visited a friend in our Village, who has also been diagnosed with MND, and discussed mobility. Wow look at this wicked scooter! Seriously cool in white. Looks like something Judge Bragg could use around town!
What about trapped? Arh well, my walking is so precise and focused now as not only is the surface level important, but also whether wet or dry. I find walking on wet pavement or hard stone deadly. This week I was doing a kitchen job, assigned by Jean, whereupon Jean starting mopping our kitchen floor around me!
Thoughtless! I got out, but it was rather like a secretive cartoon character walking on ice.
Same time next week guys.