On the 7.2 seconds commute to work this morning from my bedroom in the West Wing overlooking the lough to my study in the East Wing sheltered by the wood, a thought struck me. I know, I know, leave the thinking to the wee, small hours of the late afternoon, Philip; you are much better at it then. But the commute to work was much longer than usual today – there was a bit of a snarl-up on the stairs – and, in my defence, I was not actually thinking; as I said, the thought struck me. (Don’t worry, the whiplash claim is already in, and there is also a distinct contusion on the lower, left temple where the actual striking occurred, and this blemish on my otherwise perfect appearance may well cause me severe psychological anxiety which the court will be asked to take into consideration when it is deciding on the level of compensation to be awarded.)
The thought was this: now that the Trustees have released the lunatics from the asylum, they might find it rather difficult to get us back in again once Covid-19 has blown away to haunt some other planet. The whole nine-to-five, everyone must be seen to be at a desk in a central location illusion has surely been knocked completely on the head by this … this … (I am searching for a word here; amuse yourselves in the meantime, it won’t take long) this … Kerfuffle. That’ll do it, kerfuffle: I would have used Emergency but that is ©Irish Government as its term for World War II. When I used to do an actual 30 mile commute to work, I would say to the part-time wife who would, two and a half days per week, be in the passenger seat beside me (hence her part-time status; not only can I not get a full week’s work out of her, she is sometimes less than thorough in the execution of some other wifely duties), ‘Here, part-time wife,’ I would say, using her formal title as we would be in a pre-work situation, ‘here we are again, stuck in a traffic jam on the Hill Section because of this continuing madness that decrees that everyone has to start work at nine o’clock in the same central location.’ Generally, having a bit of sense, she would not reply as, from years of experience, she knows that all I need for one of my rants is a captive audience; actual audience participation is an added extra. I would then go on to expound on the stupidity of it all, and progress to outlining some of my innovative plans to solve the problem. (I will leave those for another post, as the problem no longer exists except in the past, which itself does not exist.)
So the thing is, as Boris keeps on saying because my second cousin (once-removed) tells him to keep on saying, we’re all in this together. Those of us who are now not part of the daily charade of driving to an office at the same time as all the other worker ants, and killing the planet with the emissions from our car exhausts as we do so, have an important, civic duty to demonstrate clearly that working from home not only works, it is much more efficient than the previous model. If we succeed in this – and there is no earthly reason why we shouldn’t given that we will not be distracted from our actual work by Julie from Human Resources asking us to fill in a survey on how satisfied we are with the new colour-scheme of the workstation partitions – we will then have empirical evidence to present to the Trustees when they try to stuff us back into our asylums when the kerfuffle is over. ‘Here, Trustees,’ we can say, using their formal titles as we are in a work situation and foregoing the more informal, derogatory soubriquets we use for them at coffee break with our fellow drones, ‘have a look at how much more work I did when working from home. Do you really want me to turn up at headquarters again and waste most of my time in meetings that never come to any conclusions, or decisions, and faff around talking to colleagues and letting people know on the staff intranet what work I would be doing if I was not spending time writing on the staff intranet about what work I am doing? Is that what you really want, Trustees?’
Or we could just refuse to go back to barracks when they call us in. Pretend that we never got the memo sort of thing, but continue to do the work. Whatever, and as the other guy said the other day in the daily stand-up comedy show hosted by Boris, it’s on us. So, if you are working from home today while reading this (on your break, I might add), remember you are not on your own. If you do not get that spreadsheet completed in half the time it would normally take you to in the office, you are letting the rest of us lunatics down for the Post-Kerfuffle scenario in which working from home is the new black, and the Hill Section of the M2 is a roller-skate park for teenagers. (That was one of the solutions I mentioned earlier, but the part-time wife never thought that was a goer.) So, c’mon drones, get the finger out and do a bit of work work! There will be plenty of time in the late afternoon for staring out the window at the squirrels frolicking in the high branches of the trees in the wood, acting the eejits and delighting in their secret knowledge that they are already immune from this disease. Squirrels have always worked from home.
I note that the new term for working from home is now ‘remote working’. I would suggest that this is because those who were previously granted the privilege of availing of it did nothing remotely like work while so doing. (On edit, I realise now that I have already done this joke, but I feel it bears repeating. I promise not to do repeats in future.)
What am I wearing today? A Hawaiian shirt, beach shorts, flip-flops and dark glasses, which makes it hard to see the screen so please excuse any tpyos. And I have just read medical advice advising me – and everyone else, presumably – to sunbathe as a preventative measure to fight the beast. Sunbathe? In Ireland? In March? But at least I am wearing the appropriate gear.