Global judgements and ideas.
Phoebe V Moore, Social Europe blog.
Control panels are the obvious place to run operations centrally. The control rooms of Star Trek’s fantastical Enterprise (and the hub of the actual Project Cybersyn under Chile’s radical president Salvador Allende) in the 1960s and 70s were however operated by humans with relatively primitive technologies.
Today, much of the work of the people we imagined in these rooms—the bouffanted women in silver A-line dresses and men in blue boiler suits pushing buttons to operate the manoeuvres of galactical imperialism—is done by computers. But what will happen when the proverbial windows looking out to the galaxies only display a cadre of robots and the control panels’ blinking lights are the only reflective glimmer?……
Andrew Hill and Emma Jacobs Financial Times, 30th March, 2020
Kevin Sneader, global managing partner of McKinsey, did not expect to spend part of this year on the consulting firm’s “Dog Blog” forum, where staff are alleviating the stress of enforced remote working by showing off their pets online… In Germany, clusters of parents working for Unilever, the consumer products group, have set up a virtual childcare system, where one of the group tends to the others’ children online while the rest get on with their work. TED, the organiser of conferences and webcasts, has set up a virtual space where staff can work “alongside” each other — “separately, but not alone” — in an effort to replicate working in a coffee shop or a shared office. TED suggests breaking for five minutes every hour for activities such as “jumping jacks or push-ups” or “1-minute pep talks”.
This is part of a new daily series enabling you to interact with FT writers and editors on what to read, watch, eat and drink under lockdown — and how to tackle your garden, home and finances ..Others, like Headspace, the mindfulness app, recognise that normal outputs will have to be altered. Rich Pierson, the CEO, says, “if you’ve suddenly got children at home with you all day, it’s going to be extremely difficult to maintain the same level of productivity as you had going into the office all day . . . [we’ve adjusted] our expectations around productivity”. The lockdown has made some types of interaction more efficient. The HR director at a law firm says annual pay conversations have been easier as everyone can assemble on a call, rather than having to accommodate different work patterns. .. Matt Dean, co-founder of Byrne Dean, a workplace consultancy that works with financial services and law firms, says this is a big opportunity for leaders to show their human side. “Everyone is facing the same foe, there is something obvious and pressing that we can connect on and be human with each other about.” He suspects, however, that some of the more “emotionally repressed” partners at law firms might struggle to step up. Such a quick shift from the office to home raises concerns about where an employer’s responsibility to its workers becomes intrusive, says Phoebe Moore, associate professor of political economy and technology at Leicester University. Technology is a “great avenue for surveillance. In the home working environment it starts at the beginning when you open your laptop. As you’re managed remotely, the employer can work out when you start. Once these enter the home, the private-public workspace collapses”.