(181) The Lockdown Catalyst

On this week’s show we are joined by Julia Hobsbawm to talk about how the pandemic and lockdown may prove to be a catalyst to change more about work than just the physical workplace.

You can find more about Julia’s work with the Demos Workshift Commission here:

Show Transcript (Automatically generated)


Matt:  Once again, we find ourselves on the precipice of a show. Christopher, is there been anything in your week just gone, that’s been different from the week that came before that that became before that that came before that?

Chris: Oh, that’s a really difficult question to answer because,  it’s such a varied lifestyle. Really? It isn’t it. I can’t say that anything significant has changed. It’s been a pretty busy week. I can say that it’s been one of those weeks where I’ve I CA Friday came around very quickly. I had lots to do and this week has started in the same way.

Although I was very glad that I’ve got up in the mornings. It didn’t last few days. And being able to watch the cricket on TV, it’s been fantastic. That’s been a sort of, something of a I have a nice little treat in these in these times, but I know Matt, I have to admit it’s been a fairly quiet week in terms of novelty.

Sorry about that.

Matt: I keep asking hoping, Oh, well, I’ll turn. Instead to Julia, Julia Hobsbawm joining us this week, how was your last seven days been?

Julia: Hello? Well, first of all, it’s a lovely thrill to be here. And I love the fact that we had a technological glitch before we came on air that cause I I’m I’m I’m the the, the anti-tech candidate.

I mean, I’m not really, but you know my week has been mercifully cricket free. I would have to say I’m probably a sport free zone by choice other than doing 10,000 steps a day where I can get to it. I’ve done. Quite a few bits of far telly and conferences. And so sort of dressing up from pajama bottoms up in front of my zoom, if you, if you know what I mean?

So that’s been quite good and Yes. You know, just one, I have become a tremendously house, proud person in this infinite lockdown I’ve been taking delivery of, you know, patch, plants, and that sort of thing. That’s been my week.

Matt: That sounds do, are you able to notice any variation in days of the week or do they all just seem to be like something day?

Julia: Big big advocate of routine and rhythm and so on and so forth. So actually I do have a little set pattern. Yeah, there’s a demarcation between Monday and Friday and the weekend. But I don’t really advocate that generally. I think that all those rules about, you know, Days on and days off just to be adapted according to what you like.

I’ve got lots and lots of kids and we have, we have half a dog it’s complicated. The dog doesn’t completely belong to us, but the dog is with us at the moment and dah, dah, dah. And I end up, I’m like the dog’s grandma because my daughter who’s 20 years, you know, behaves towards the dog, like a single mum that.

Sometimes says, Oh, grandma, you take it. And so I find myself plotting around the park with the dog. Sharing that, but you have is .

Matt: Yeah. Excellent. That’s good to know. I I’ve studiously avoiding any concept of dog in our home. Cause I, I, you know, at least children, you get to a point where they can clean up after themselves.

Whereas dogs are, it appears you have to follow them around with a plastic bag at all times all the way until the end of their little doggy lives, which can’t be doing with that.

Julia: Well, is it you, that suggests you’re a cat person possibly. Yes,

Matt: absolutely. Yeah. Okay. Well, that’s good Snyder where we’ve drawn the lines here.

Isn’t it? It’s, you know. Excellent.

Chris: Yeah. Good to know that you’re spending some time making your space livable in a different way. I think we have to do that. Don’t worry. I have to try and take some some time to make it a little bit more Appealing. If we’re going to be there all the time, you know, even if it’s perfectly nice to start off with, we tried to find ways to incrementally make it slightly nicer.

Don’t we? Yes.

Julia: I think I’m, I, I think I’m one of what I’m called the 1% of the 1% during this lockdown, you know, to have space, to have. Different rooms for every member of the family to have large shared space, to have a little bit of outdoors, to be near in my case, hamster teeth, which is a large, huge sprawling piece of land, which is never boring, very near me and so on and so forth.

I really can’t imagine what it’s like. And feel pretty wretched whenever I’ve read. Christina Lamb articles in the Sunday times describing or statistics like for some people, I mean, it’s beyond imagining really the level of stress and hardship of being locked up. There, my kids are not little tiny people anymore.

They’re teenagers and young adults, which also makes a difference. So yeah, but, but I think actually wherever you live. Luxury or otherwise you’ve had to sort of zone it a bit like your own regional planning officer, you know, Where does so-and-so do their work, their school work, where do we do this, that and the other.

And that, that has been quite interesting, you know, the inner architect and all of us has, has this.

Chris: Absolutely. So, so I’m not unlike Julia, I do have strong demarcation. I, I reached Friday afternoon a bit like a cross channel Sumit climbing out of the water. It’s that kind of. Staggering towards the finish line.

What about yourself? How has this week been?

Matt: If I can manage to get that particular visual image out of my head?  It’s, it’s been a week of getting stuff done and particularly on Friday being able to do the first big piece of going out to tender for big new project, he stuff at work, which is brilliant.

And There’s been an awful lot of work with the team over the last four or five months. And with some external people helping out as well. And we’ve now got eight weeks to see what we can do to be able to start to replace some of their core systems, but also try to be able to use this as a lever, to be able to help the organization get a bit better at Joining itself up behind the scenes, which is very exciting.

And I’m very pleased that we’ve got to that point and it feels like I’m at now doing stuff that is, well, I think we should be doing as opposed to clearing the backlog of the stuff that was in flight when I joined, which is a great relief part from that, I learned how to cook ramen, which is very exciting following on from my learning, how to cook Goza a few weeks ago with Yuki’s kitchen, which is the most fabulous thing.

The only thing was though I was supposed to have an online course except I’d managed to get the date a month out. And so I had all the chicken and noodles and soccer and everything else that I needed for producing this wonderful ramen dish, but unfortunately no zoom class to do it. So I had to go on my own with the recipe that was that had been sent through.

And then I’m going to try it again next month with Yuki giving experts the position and see if I can do better next time. So that was very exciting. I was kind of, I was in cookery classes, a thing to behold, and I think I would do more of them in the future.

Julia: I’m having zoom exercise classes, which has been a bit of a revelation.

And tomorrow morning I’m going to be joining a dance class in Tel Aviv or a dance movement class in Televiv. Don’t quite understand it. But that’s the plan that has been interesting. That’s been a revelation, actually that you can just sort of join a live stream. Anywhere in the world. I mean, of course you always could before, but somehow this moment has made us experimental.

Did you ever think you’d made wrong? Well,

Matt: maybe. But what I wouldn’t have expected was to be doing online. That’s definitely the, the bit that’s changed around it also. I mean, this is the other thing that the the continuing exploits of my friends in the capacitor and ventilator, which is the virtual public we’ve been running on and off through lockdown.

There was a group of people who now desparately spread across from Galway in the West of Ireland all the way through to, I don’t know who the furthest flair is, probably somebody in Stockholm. And we’re seeing each other more than we have done in 20 years, which is fabulous. But all from the comfort of our own seats, we should probably have you reached a certain ages.

Probably a worrying tendency cause with we ever leave the seats again, anyway, fantastic stuff. We’re going to be talking about some athletes, some of the things allied to that. Thinking about how organizations are fairing through this, which is a theme that we keep coming back to. Cause I think it’s really important and to look at it from, from your lens as somebody.

Julia, who’s been doing an awful lot of thinking around networks and groups and organizations and how to make our life simpler. So let’s get on with it.

Main interview

Matt: So we’re now entering into the second year of this mass experiment into dramatically disparate working practices, flexible working practices, homeworking not being in the same physical space as our colleagues and so on. And I actually interested to start off with . All that you look at and study around how organizations operate in networks and, and collaboration and so on.

How do you think it’s going at the moment? Why do you think we’re at?

Julia: Well, I think we’re sort of in the middle of nowhere. It’s the name of a paper I’ve got coming out called the nowhere office for demos. I’m the chair of the work shift commission, a new. Exploration of what the world of work is going to be like run by the think tank demos.

And I think we’re in the middle of nowhere because we’re, well, I want to pick up on the, on the beautiful word liminal that was used with Rhode Island last week. I mean, we are twixt in between. A place of fixity and certainty, which was the office where even with some flexibility and some work spaces and, you know, ultimately it was still an old system that people went into.

A building with regularity. And we are now transitioning in this space, which is currently nowhere where we just don’t know. Where we will end up because the pandemic has surprised everybody by proving how versatile work can be thanks to technology. So all the big companies started really effectively offshoring their work to home as early as February last year, you know, long before.

Mid-March when the ax came down. Actually, if you talk to, as I’m sure you have done facilities managers and CEOs and tech, and what have you, I mean, it was all set up for the very big companies at home and lo and behold it works. And so then you had the question about, well, if it worked so well, what does that mean?

Economically socially. And so there’s this enormous sets of questions has been expelled like a volcano that was rumbling and rumbling and rumbling for 50 years, which it was in the world of work with discussion around flexibility, with discussion around presenteeism, with discussion around all sorts of things.

But it. You know, the, the volcano never erupted while the pandemic is that eruption and it’s still spearing out all sorts of things, but when it sets goals, the big question is where will it settle? Will we be going back to that more or less fixed routine and pattern in place? Spoiler alert. I don’t think we will.

And what will it feel like to the people doing that work? So, so where are we as we are in an exciting place we’re in a place that could potentially be an awful lot better than it was before, because I take the view that work wasn’t a great place before. I mean, certainly if the metrics on stress and absenteeism through stress and.

Productivity or anything to go by which is not to completely dismiss and rubbish the office, but it is to say that change was probably wanted and overdue, but wasn’t felt to be as possible as it is now. So that’s my position as kind of an optimistic pessimist really.

Matt: You, you gave us some, a bit of a sneak preview of the work, the demos.

And I think one of the things that struck me and it was the you identify that there’s two sets of people and there are people maybe who are either newer into their careers or newer into an organizational, both. And then those who are further into their careers and sort of maybe. In their own minds, learning less.

Although I think anybody who thinks they don’t need to learn anymore is in deep trouble.

Julia: Yes. I’m going to call them learners and leavers. I mean, I think that when we think about the place of work and the idea that we will go back, there’s a real question Mark, about how often and why, and fundamentally as you say.

Kind of specialize in organizational behavior around networks and the way people. Form networks which is actually a rather more interesting way to look at it, the networking, which is perhaps being pedantic. But, but I think if you understand the science of networks, which is tremendously interesting, not least in the middle of a pandemic to understand the epidemiological spread is really quite similar to the way ideas spread, for example yeah.

But in terms of networks, we are of course, a social species and we need to connect in order to share information and knowledge and ideas and creativity and warmth and love and passing on risk and passing on news about danger and all sorts of things. And so that is how we organize ourselves as a society.

And it’s how we organize ourselves in work places. And so not being able to be in a workplace. Does present a real problem for those networks, which I don’t believe, you know, the Trello’s and slacks and what have used the productivity platforms ha quite meet. I’m sure they would say otherwise, but I felt quite clearly that Well, I know from my research that we’re going to see a rather interesting new generation of social networks around work, but at the moment, going back to this idea of learners and leavers, what you’re then left with post pandemic is once people have realized it might be more possible to choose.

The frequency with which they go back to an office and, and indeed the bosses, if you like might decide, it’s cheaper to have people, some people stay at home some of the time and so on. Why will anyone want to go to an office? It will be to collaborate and to connect and to be social and to gather in those networks face to face.

And then you have one group that has a greater need than others. And that’s the youngsters. That’s the young people, because fundamentally they want to hang out. They want to learn. They want to gossip. They want to watch, they want to experience, whereas the leavers, if you like the baby boomers and I mean, I’m born in 1964.

What does that make me?

Matt: Definitely gen

Julia: X, gen X. Okay. Our source of generation. We. We quite like having what they used to call work life balance stamp. We were quite enjoying some of the new found freedoms. And so we might want to go in and dip in back to the office, but I don’t know about you, but the idea of going back to an office nine to five is, is, is about the last thing I would want.

So that’s really interesting because then you say, you think, well, what’s that going to be like for the property guys? What? So that would be like for the it guys, what’s that going to be like for the HR guys? What’s that going to be like for the C-suite generally, what’s that going to be like for the building, the office, the experience.

And of course the other trend that we’ve seen, that again has been bubbling away, all this, all this time and never really agonizing is this thing that they call purpose. The P word, which is the meaning, the values, which Jen Zed, the newest kids on the block care a lot about purpose. They care about two things.

Fundamentally, actually one is mobility. So they, they want to be able to go into an office, but they also want to have access to absolutely everything on the move. But the other thing is they want to have meaning and value in their lives. And so work has got to fit that. So suddenly purpose, which had been gaining momentum for the last three years, things like the British Academy, future, the corporation purpose stuff, which I’ve been a little bit involved in last year, 200.

Of the world’s largest companies effectively signed a declaration of purpose in the summer, suddenly something that was sort of seen as almost nice to have, you know, next generation CSR has actually become a really live issue now, which is when we get back from all of this, where are we going to do it?

How are we going to do it? And why are we going to do it?

Matt: You think then that will be maybe one of the other things that we’ll have learned out of this is that we can actually be able to control things a bit more on our own terms. And so is there the purpose part, part as much as anything about how do you actually attract people to become in any way? Part of an employer anymore because you don’t have the physical space.

You don’t have the places to go. The signage on the walls, all of that stuff. If you’re stuck in your own home at all times, then there’s no sense of being part of the greater thing. And that’s, that’s a You know, that’s really quite a significant challenge for organizations who probably over the last few decades have started to, you know, we individually have started to question, what is the purpose of us being part of a big organization.

If the, if the return for it is three months, notice is all you get and we won’t be loyal to you, but we expect loyalty in return. I wonder if there’s something there that could be quite existential for the, the big corporation.

Julia: Oh, I, I agree completely. And I think that the philosophy of meaning attached to work is what the purpose agenda means in practice for employers, which is, and, and to your point specifically about the Dispersal of, of a culture because people work remotely.

I, I think it’s going to become the number one priority for brands and businesses and organizations is how do you create and nurture cohesion if you are not United in effectively a skyscraper or the emblem of it? I mean, what was fascinating to me writing this report was I was. I had a flashback really to just a few years ago in 2018.

I think it was the Bloomberg’s new office building opened in the city of London and Mike Bloomberg really began the era of the office as Citadel to attract talent. It’s in fact, when people began to be described as talent, rather than just employees, you know, really when Jan. Gen Zed began to, well, the millennials, when the millennials began to enter the workplace and suddenly offices began to compete to be really like sexy with, you know, all you can eat bars and bean bags and what have you.

And that trend continued. All the way through the decade, which saw the arrival of, you know, the triple revolution of the internet, social or mobile Island broadband and all of that, the apex of which could be seen to be the opening of the gazillion square foot building of Bloomberg in the city of London, which was, was going to did briefly pre pandemic house 4,000 people.

You know, it was the most sustainable building on the planet, blah, blah, blah. Well, it what’s going to happen to that building is my question. Is it going to just snap back, like pre pregnancy weight to its former full occupancy or not? I don’t know. So, I mean, it’s really a, it’s a really interesting question.

And if not, how can you have on a distributed basis?  Culture and a sense of belonging. And that’s the thing where the tech that you chaps are really interested in becomes suddenly married almost for the first time to human behavior and human need. It feels to me like for the last 25 years or so, it’s been almost.

Separate in some respects, certainly in an office environment, it’s been about productivity. It’s been about documents. It’s been about sharing. It’s been about uploading. It’s been about not really connecting people and suddenly that’s becoming more and more and more important. So it’s a, it’s a proverbial tipping point.

That’s going on.

Chris: That is a good point. And it’s, which is, it has been a lot about technology has been about sharing golf stuff rather than connecting people in some way to share thoughts and ideas. And but I wonder whether the, yeah, the, the, the, the city has been exaggerated a little bit in as much as.

People are, people are saying, Oh, here we go. You know, one of other landlords and the cities are going to be empty and nobody’s going back to work. And I think from my point of view, I see different, as you say, different types of people that are there. There are definitely people who are, are absolutely delighted to be away from the office.

And maybe that includes those of us who got to a certain age and, or maybe became. You know, in terms of knowledge workers or whatever, you’re kind of vulnerable enough or or confident enough in your own body, you just say, actually, I’m going to work from home today, or I’m going to go and work from that coffee shop or whatever.

And you don’t fear the, any reprisals because they can take a run and jump ball, get another job if you don’t like it and all that. But I also think there are some types of work and sometimes the people for which the elastic pulling us back to. But how it was before is stronger. So yeah. As you, as you say that a lot to those with younger people, those people who are trying to climb the greasy pole at the end of the day, if you’re nearer to the people, making the decisions, you have a better chance of influencing them and being seen and being noticed and all of that kind of thing.

So we are a competitive species and as we. Compete for the attention of the people that I’ve got, the money, we will go back. You know, those people who want to do that, we’ll go and be close to those people. It’s it’s inevitable, I think. And I think there are some businesses who. Make the decision that they want to work in that way, they want to work close to people.

They want to work in physical proximity and they will go back to those cities and those organizations who believe that they can. Sure. Well elsewhere. Another, another way of working. Well not, and they’ll say, okay, no fine. You do. You go for it. You know, you take all the, all the costs and all of the, all of the risk of, of, of having all this real estate and, and all these assets.

And we, we won’t do that. And I saw that when I, I was, I was running a project on a team, building a cryptocurrency thing a couple of years ago. And all of those people are all over the world and they were all young and very, very articulate, very intelligent, highly valuable people in as much as they have really good skills and they were, they didn’t need to be close to each other.

It was, it was Google Hangouts or meet or whatever. And we met, you know, a time where the one hour of the day where the people in New Zealand could talk to the people in Chicago and all of that kind of thing. But do you know what every single. Yeah. When the sort of Ethereum big international networking thing came around, whether it be in Prague or in stock on whatever they wanted to be there.

Everybody wanted to be there because it was that moment where you got to sit down and have a beer with the person you’ve been coding with for the last you know, six, seven, eight, nine months online. So th I, I do think, I think there are lots of people who will do this and they will definitely be work apart.

But I do think some of the gaps, maybe all of the gaps will be filled by organizations and people who do just want to get back together and they want to work physically and this, but they are just those kinds of people in business.

Julia: I think that’s completely right. I think it is Not the case that the nowhere office, the remote office is going to eradicate, you know, patterned working in the same place anymore than, you know, fundamentally manufacturing requires a production locus in order to.

Assemble the parts and so on and so forth. But what I do think going back to the, you know, the old volcano analogy is that there have been rumblings of discord and discontent and efforts for change that have really not surfaced for about 50 years. So if you just take flexible working, I mean, just to, you know, just to burnish a few feminist credentials at this point in a row, in a, in a, in a digital room full of blokes, I mean, You know, women by and large champion, the idea of flexible working to be better at having a balance and childcare and sense of well, and it has been pretty hard.

One BC was very much an early adopter. The phrase work-life balance being. Used in response to a paper that they published as, as long ago as 1987, but flexible working has never really completely caught on and of course, lockdown. Now when a lot of men and male executives suddenly understood it and got the point a bit, that’s when this whole discussion about possibly not working in the same way has has.

So I do think that Certain genies are not going to go back in the bottle is what I think. And one of those genies is that if you don’t have to, or don’t want to work in a fixed immutable way, you will be able to argue convincingly that you don’t have to anymore. And even if your boss thinks they can keep a lid on it, legislation will follow.

And from that point of view, I don’t think it will be the same again, but what I think is that in exactly the same way that all humans let’s face, it are on a spectrum of all sorts of things at any given time. I think the work is on a spectrum. You know, the learner at one end and the lever at one end is a spectrum in which your needs and the needs of your organization change.

And so. Some organizations at certain points are absolutely going to need everybody and all the time, a bit like, you know, there’s no leave in a police, you know, in a, in the police force or poor, poor law in the NHS at the moment, you know, all leave is canceled kind of thing. But that doesn’t mean the norm is going to be presenteeism anymore.

I think that, so, so I think there’s a separation between the hard economics of the way individual organizations need to run on a re-organized and therefore, do people need to be in the same place in order to get it done? Is it just too complicated, even with the best software? So run different schedules, not in the same place, you know, debate.

Arguably that might be the case, but culturally it’s another, another master entirely. And I think that a number of shifts that were beginning from around about 2007, which is roughly speaking, when you started to have all the, all the mobile brands and mobile light, you know, The Facebooks and the Instagrams and the Airbnbs, for example.

And you had a very particular book published that year called the four hour work week. Did you ever read that fantastic book? Did you ever increase your look? Oh, it’s the most marvelous book. I mean, it basically says it’s the four hour work week, not the four hour work day. And it says it was on the bestseller list for seven years.

That’s how much of a nerve it touch and it effectively argued. That emotionally and philosophically and intellectually and logically, there was a case to do your work anywhere, but in a presentee way, and to keep your bosses happy. And that touch a design Geist, which I think a pandemic is going to re re-ignite.

That’s all I’m saying. And it brings back in that whole kind of big purpose piece, which is why we all working anywhere and what do we want with our lives? And there’s capitalism. Everything is cracked up to be blah, blah, blah. That’s what I’m really interested in is those big questions. I’m not denying at all that of course, city centers will reopen with the, with the latte stalls and the dry cleaners and the.

Restaurants and the bars and the, all that sort of stuff, because that’s, that’s, that’s society, society will resume, but I do think these big questions have been unleashed in us. We hadn’t had a pandemic in this kind of connected industrialized, modern society for a hundred years. At this scale,

Matt: it would have been a very, very different experience.

If the pandemic had hit say 20 years ago, as well before the connected nature of how we work now, it would have been a completely different. Completely different experience two decades

Julia: back. Although I know an architect, a guy called David Katz in New York pointed out that, of course, a lot of modern building design from netball busier onwards was in fact informed by the, the, the aesthetic of the last pandemic of the Spanish flu, which I hadn’t even realized.

So, so these shifts in the way, the world functions. Around our safety and our mobility and our meaning, you know, we’re experiencing mass death, mass threat of death. That is making us question meaning isn’t it?

Chris: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean, you got to think that there are going to be people who. A few years ago would think to themselves, well, the chances are they’re going to look to 70 plus and there’s going to be a retirement and all of that kind of thing.

And I’d even had my pension and all of that. But maybe one of the things that this does to everybody is to take that question and shake it about a bit and say, you know, is life too short? You know, are we. How are we wasting our lives when we’re young and if this kind of thing is going to happen again.

And you know, it’s a valid question, isn’t

Julia: it? Yeah. Especially when you marry it with, with, with the whole climate discussion and that sensibility and the fact that what you’ve now got again, as a consequence of the pandemic and as a consequence of the seriousness of the situation is that. The purpose of agenda and the ESG environmental sustainable and governance agenda is curiously and alignment for the first time, arguably in a hundred years between the bosses and the worker, which is everybody wants the same thing for the first time survival.

And that’s really interesting. So they might be coming at it from different. Physicians, you know, how do you retain and attract talent and have social cohesion in an office that isn’t really an office anymore? How do you do, you know, drinks and secret center and that if everybody’s on shift, but at the same time, if what you’ve got is the boardroom in embracing purpose principles, which are really different too.

You know, stakeholder capitalism, then that could also create all sorts of change. So just in one case alone, I’m really interested in what’s going to happen around the use of time and the spending of time. I, I think when you asked me at the beginning, how my week was, I used to be a very much champion of switch off at six o’clock on a.

Friday, for example, and demarcation and practice what I used to call a technician bat and no technology for 24 hours and a sort of screen wide. And I don’t know if I think I would advocate that anymore, partly because we’ve become so embedded with the tech, but also because. More and more, we want to choose our own patterns and our own presenteeism around our work is a form of freedom and choice.

And so if I could both wave a magic wand and maybe even future a little bit, I would say that I also think we’re going to see not just an uncoupling from that place of work, but also. The fixity of saying you’re paid for this number of hours and you’re paid to show that you’ve worked those hours rather than have you given meaning to this organization.

What does success look like? What have you contributed? Have you brought your networks into this organization? Have you been a good team member? Have you, you know, time I think could become much, much less relevant or differently counted.

Matt: That’s what interests me. Yeah. There’s definitely something in that.

And I think that the I mean, from my years of working as a, as a consultant and trying always to be able to work on the principle of. Being able to charge a client for the outputs or the outcomes of what I was doing rather than the input of time and that working sometimes, but mostly not because most people couldn’t equate.

Yes. But how many hours would he. B because that’s how we’re used to paying for people. And I think that shift away from the inputs is going to be, there’s definitely potential there, but I think it’s really hard. And I think the other bit within this is if we think about this as the idea of gaining, making gains in productivity, I think traditionally the, the organization, the employer has always expected that the primary recipient of any productivity gain should be the organization that was power industrialization, whether, so you put machines in, you can get rid of people and then you can, you know, and so on.

And I don’t think that works with knowledge work. I think there’s a lot of claims at the moment that, you know, artificial intelligence, et cetera, will. Get rid of the need for currently highly paid knowledge professionals. It will get rid of some anthroposophy and there’s, you know, some traits like within healthcare or within say the legal profession where a lot of the Drudge work there there’s currently reasonably highly paid.

We’ll just go because you don’t need to do it, but. Maybe this marks the point at which for certain types of work, more people are able to be in a position of greater power over the people who are contracting them to do things. Maybe this will give an opportunity for them to be able to start to take the rewards of that productivity.

If it is, if I can do the work in four hours a week, but I still get the outcomes you expect, don’t expect me to fill in the other 36 as we stuffed, just because that’s what a week is.

Julia: Yes. I think the whole productivity question, by the way, it’s just so fascinating. I’ve never understood why people just go, Oh, There’s the productivity factors again, aren’t they terrible, you know, productivity is always obviously, or it seems to me index linked to creativity to purpose, to meaning whether you are on a factory floor or an office floor.

And actually what I think is coming out of this phase is a sort of alignment again, thanks to technology and thanks to the trend where. We’re not really going to differentiate between the factory floor and the office floor work is all going to have to tick similar boxes, which is, is it first of all, is it ethical?

That’s a big issue, more and more, is it sustainable? You know, and. Does it provide a good environment for the people doing the work? One of the, one of the most pioneering examples actually of purpose driven work which I was surprised to come across extraordinary case study of, of, of the Kellogg’s factory, the cereal factory, and In production in the 1930s, which is a Kellogg instigated, a six hour day, a flexible working shorter working day in 1929 in order to give more work because after the great depression.

You know, there was such a, such a, an economic crisis and it proved incredibly popular with the men and women leading those lives so much so that they campaign to retain it all the way up until the 1950s, when it turned out that the workers wanted more hours, because there was so many white goods they wanted to buy and rumor has it that the wives got, you know, and see that the husbands were under their feet.

A few extra hours a week, but that may be just an urban myth, but actually in the end it lasted until the eighties, but it was done over by management management, wanted to control the hours. So the other question, so, so many things to talk about here. Hope you can come back and have another conversation, but I think what’s really interesting is burstable of course, productivity is linked to meaning and whether we value the time we are spending.

And that should, in my view a much more valuable than what time we’re spending, you know, is there a point to what you’re doing and are you being treated well for doing it? But the second issue is really what, what is the work itself, if you are in fact producing, you know, I don’t know, toxic products made with slave labor.

That’s just not cool anymore for anybody anywhere. And increasingly those values, I think, are not going to, they’re not going to be put away even when people fear that there’s not enough jobs going round. I think that, that that issue is live for large organizations, you know, we’re in a  very self-conscious era.

Are we not where certain values and norms are popping up a fresh,  and that  makes me think that some of these shifts might actually stick. That culturally, there’s going to be a lot more force than there has been before driven by, beyond, but also driven by the market. The whole ethics question is, is actually now got commercial T that’s really an interesting moment.

So productivity ought to go up. If those interests are aligned. And if it doesn’t, the question is, well, what is it? Bad management. Is it presenteeism? Is it lack of skills? Is it the wrong technology? Is it? What, what is it?


Matt: Well, thank you to Julia for fascinating discussion into themes that we continue to come back to. But I think we still need to explore them. Anyway she’s had to shoot off Chris, you’ve got another week ahead of you.

Chris: I mean, I

Matt: hope that’s why I, yeah. Tell me to give you this note. I’m sorry.

This is a very harsh way to break it to you, but yeah,

Chris: the if I’m spared, yes, I’ll have another week in front of me. And it’s well it’s again, another busy one and. I mean, luckily we’re in that time of the year where, so this is how it works with IDC. At the start of the year, we have these things called directions events, which are essentially predictions and all that stuff, sort of all that good stuff that comes out.

And then I’ll do some a turn on one or two of these events. And I think like I talked about last week, recording them and things like that. So, and then we’ll talk to people and now that might be something to come to some conversations about. How about how we might be able to help people and things like that.

So that’s some of that’s going on in the next few weeks with some of the people that were at some of our events. So that’s good because that’s me talking to people that I’ve not talked to before. And it made me think about actually without opening the can of worms, about what we were just talking about and, and about the fact that the funding part of the funding for me of this job and it’s valuable to me is it helps me expand my network.

And no doubt I bring my own network to it. Right. So that’s part of my buddy, but it is valuable to me too, because I’m meeting people and learning things that I wouldn’t otherwise have done. And I think, especially when you’re young, that’s part of what you go, but you’re opposite. I think that’s something we should maybe, maybe as we employ people, you know, we should be bringing up the things that you do get out of a job when you’re in it.

But anyway, sorry, I didn’t want to you know, continue the debate. But it just made me think about it and it made me think about what I’m doing this week and all of those kinds of good things. But yeah, it’s going to be a bit like that. A few conversations with customers, few with new, new, new connections, I think, I think that’s about it.

Really. Matt, what about you?

Matt: Well we continue to track how many people are going to be sending their responses to the tender that I mentioned at the beginning of the show. Very exciting. You can watch it live on the digital outcomes on gov government, UK. It’s it’s like watching the football on tele techs back in the eighties.

Very similar. Are

Chris: you are you going to share the link in the on the web page?

Matt: I might. Well do it’s that

Chris: exciting when you go to the web page? Is that it is something involving like Nora orange on the page and you have to wait until it turns over to get to your

Matt: that’d be great. No, it’d be late new Orleans procurement for a new set of spanners.

And then, yeah, it’d be fabulous. And then other than that it, it’s actually a bit of a week of relative Relative quiet, contemplation and comparisons to the last few words. And then the weekend, I’ve got to try to think of things to do with the kids next week during half term, because it is half term and I will be spending most of the week with them rather than working.

So I’ve really got to come up with some plans of stuff to do cause otherwise it will be a as a day of video games, which will not go down well with anybody.

Chris: Ah, well, you ought to get one of these little microbit Rover things that I was programming and that’s where, again, it’s, it’s a really cool thing.

I’ll send you the detail.

Matt: That’d be good. Yeah. We’ve got a microwave. So I think we’ll play around with a bit, although we’re trying to get away from screen time as well. Cause it would be good, especially cause the kids are basically on the laptops. Most of the day is they’re doing schoolwork, trying to be able to do things that don’t involve.

Any sort of computer

Chris: technology for awhile, then weeding the garden. It would be a good thing. You know, you have lots of little weeds that are start popping up. This is a great term. Great use for tiny Hunter.

Matt: Yeah, that, that may well be it. Next week show we have got yet another guest and if I remember correctly, it’s Ed Qualtrough.

Who will be joining really? I believe so. If it isn’t then, you know, there we go. So it, the, the former editor of CIO magazine somebody who I’ve spent many hours locked in a room, judging CIOs from across the nation with, and he’s now working for a subsidiary, the new statesman. So it’d be great to catch up with ed and find out what he’s up to and his view of the world at the moment.

And before we get to that, Enjoy the week between now and then, and look forward to joining you next week.

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