Friday, January 31, 2014

That Generation Thing

Hub has occasion to do business with colleagues in Great Britain this time of year especially, though on a lesser level throughout.  He gets irritated with what seems to him to be slovenly work habits with no sense of urgency what-so-ever.  When he needs something his go to people are always on 'holiday' and more than once it has put a huge crimp in our own plans.

I finally convinced him to not plan anything  during this peak period.  He's learning.  It's frustrating though because some of the things we enjoy are scheduled and cannot, of course, be changed.

The whole fiasco reminded me of my own days past in an office environment.  It has been a very, very long time since I've even stepped into a real business office.  I'm not sure I'd recognize what passes for them today.

In my day, there was a dress code.  This was long before jeans were common place, or even pant suits for that matter.  Women wore heels.  Men wore suits and ties though often shed their jackets while in their offices.  Back on they went for meetings.

We had two fifteen minute breaks and an hour for lunch.  Our hours were eight to five.  Period. I cannot help but note this was back when this nation was roaring.

Let's face it, the European way of conducting business is very different from our own.  They are far more laid back and heaven forbid they miss any holiday time. I've learned a great deal about those differences from reading faithfully several columns in the Financial Times of London.  One of my favorites is Lucy Kellaway.  Last week she wrote about this being a golden age for office workers which garnered some wonderful comments.

One such applauded the fact there is no more smoking.  Another pointed out the difference in attitudes toward women.

The best, however, was one that waxed nostalgic about office life in the 70's when tea ladies made the rounds of the offices with their urns and buns.  How very British. As to promoting good work habits, desks had to be cleared once a week so they could be polished.  How great is that?  I don't clear my household furniture once a week for a good dusting!

Working late apparently wasn't allowed because the security men sent you packing.  That must hold true today because no phone is ever answered a minute after office hours.

Best of all perhaps was the ritual of starting meetings with gin and tonic and no matter what ended at three.  Maybe that's something Congress should try as they go into session.  It might mellow them out enough to actually get along.

I don't know if these are practices are continued this day and age, but I rather like the concept.  I'm willing to wager all that civilised behavior led to a degree of productivity seldom seen today. Think about it.  Yesterdays serenity versus today's frenzy. It is, you know, a generational thing. I wonder, if we'd go back could we have a better future?

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