Half a Hexagon
shaping simple ideas in a complex world
Monday 3 May2021
Happy Bank Holiday Monday. I'll keep it brief because, you're not working, are you? That line between not working and working is like the line between presenteeism and presence - it's a thin one if you're Always On.
The torrent of words about showing up for work and when and how continues unabated which is both good for me as I try and make sense of it all for the book of The Nowhere Office (more of which anon).
I'm glued to the replies coming in from people generously contributing their thoughts and was pleased to receive a note from Sir Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business who said - and I will hold back the bulk of what he said for the book - that "the world is becoming more divided with the labour aristocracy working harder and more enthusiastically because creativity and the exercise of authority are satisfying and others are working harder because they have to".
That inequality exists at the heart of work is something I don't want to forget, tempting thought it is to relay the fascinating managerial twists and turns that the first wave of hybrid is wreaking: Thanks to the rain I ended up briefly meeting a contact in government last week not in St James's Park as planned, but in their office in Whitehall, and it was a ghost town. "HR is in every day asking how many people do I think will actually come back in" my meeting companion said, over the tops of a series of empty desks. "I said: Not a lot".
The truth is that handling hybrid is about the most complex challenge for 'the back office' side of work there is: The HR people, the Property people. They have to figure out who is coming back and how and most important, how to be productive as well. This is what makes the story so fascinating.
Back to that thin blue line between simple and complex.
On to my books of the day. Gillian Tett's splendid new book was sent to me and it's just brilliant, like all her work. "AnthroVision" is a cracker of a phrase and refers to the way we should start to look less at what we do know and more with curiosity at what we don't.
And I've twinned the reading with a writer who I've become instantly smitten by, Melissa Gregg, Intell's Chief Social Scientist. She brings an acute cultural eye to the world of work and this book is especially interesting, published as it was in 2012 about the white collar workforce in new media and tech industries in Australia.
I hope to persuade both of them to appear on the podcast The Nowhere Office. We're about to 'drop' the next episode featuring a history of the Desk Diary: Lessons for simplicity in there!