An antidote to the era of the WFH • The Register
Something for the weekend, sir? How is your Great Resignation going? Still playing with that resume/summary? Me too!
If you are among those who have changed employers in recent months, you may be in the leisure and hospitality sector, where quit rates are said to be double the cross-industry average. Waiters everywhere have changed tables, so to speak; retail ones are put up for sale; hoteliers have sought a better welcome; cruise line staff left the ship. He h.
But since you read The registeryou’re more likely to be among the usual 3-4% of IT workers who traditionally send their resignation memos to HR each January.
People quit their jobs for many different reasons, and it doesn’t take much imagination to figure out why quit rates are so high in leisure and hospitality, a huge industry ruthlessly sacrificed to COVID restrictions. Many of these people left not just their jobs, but the industry itself so they could work in a less precarious industry, like skydiving, sword swallowing, or delivering pizza to homes.
What is your reason? I bet it’s that call to get back to the office. WFH was perfect, right? Let’s face it, the reason you chose to work in IT in the first place was that you hate working alongside other humans. Me too!
The one surprising development in 2022 is how many non-IT workers suddenly realize they feel the same way. Thanks to the technology you installed for them, workers in the previously office-bound world have become a little too comfortable shuttling between the kitchen table and the coffee table.
Of course, they hated it at first and complained bitterly about the huge out-of-pocket expense of keeping their laptop battery charged.
They also quickly realized that they would have to spend hundreds a year on high daytime home heating bills when before they could, uh, spend thousands of dollars to get to a city center so they could freezing in an air-conditioned open-plan office, frostbite in their hands and ice cubes falling from their noses.
By the way, a runny nose is now recognized as a special problem for computer users. While snooping around a random store the other day, I found these packs of pocket squares for sale over the counter:
“Special Geek tissues. Improves 4G and wipes the dribble out of the corner of the mouth! Makes gamers’ nostrils shine! Made of fibers from recycled Xboxes!”
And here is the back:
“Tip: In case of connection problem, remove a tissue and blow your nose hard. Your connection will be restored!”
After months of complaining, however, many of those lucky enough to have the kind of jobs that allow them to work from home have been very unhappy to return to the office. They had grown accustomed to those subtle WFH perks that had previously been denied them at their communal employment headquarters, such as: a reliable internet connection; adequate hardware and up-to-date software; bad hair and wearing pajamas all day; a toilet where no one has broken the seat or stolen the last roll; and that crucial daytime Netflix performance.
According to the head of consumer research at ParcelHero: “Half of all people lucky enough to continue working from home at least one day a week say it has reduced their expenses.
49% of all men and 43% of women say they have saved on transport and travel costs. Figures collected by the UK’s Office for National Statistics even indicate that consumer spending on personal credit cards has actually fallen each time there has been a WFH period. The most popular place to spend hours shopping from home is the workplace.
To deal with the reluctance of some employees, colleagues and even customers to return to real life, organizations have adopted the whistle of hybrid meetings.
While these might seem outdated to those familiar with video conferencing, they are a real tech behemoth for the average office worker. A hybrid meeting is, of course, just an actual meeting in an actual meeting room (or other similar location) in which one of the attendees has logged into Zoom and pointed a webcam in the general direction of the attendee. he thinks will do most of the talking.
Hybrid meetings combine the immediacy of real-world interaction and the convenience of remote communication, and end up with the worst characteristics of both.
I attended one of them this week, for the publication of research on the reliability of news sources. Organizers planned to invite people to a venue to make the announcement, foolishly assuming they would be desperate for human interaction after so many months chained to their homes. But no: they were forced to open it to remote accessors who were afraid to leave this funny little space that they reserve in front of their only shelf.
One thing I really appreciate about hybrid meetings is that no one is in charge. This meeting was no exception, as we discovered when a remote participant got activated while taking a phone call at his desk. The speakers in the real meeting place interrupted their presentation in front of their real audience, thinking it was a question shouted by the online audience.
They first made what I thought was a commendable effort to answer the person’s irrelevant question about the cost of cavity wall insulation before realizing what was going on.
And he went on for another three minutes as we listened intently to the details of his house-building project, disparaging opinions about his architect, and glowing comments about the plumber. The screams from the room audience and other remote participants to mute went unheard: as you know, you can’t hear what other people are saying in remote meetings when you’re talking to yourself. -same.
As for the Zoom host – the only person in the room with mute rights – well, she was on camera and on stage at the time, some distance from her laptop and shouting unnecessarily but instinctively at the projector screen behind her with everyone. .
I host monthly membership and committee meetings remotely for my union branch, and despite all the talk about returning to the in-person meeting now that it’s deemed safe enough, or even moving to a hybrid format, we don’t we still haven’t done either.
Organizing meetings remotely is too convenient. However, unlike the reluctance elsewhere to return to offices, our former in-person meetings regularly drew significantly more people than our Zoomers.
So what makes a boring in-person meeting worth the physical effort of transporting yourself, compared to the no less boring but ultra-convenient remote meeting you can connect to while snacking at the House ?
Hmm, nibble. It reminds me, have you noticed that co-working spaces are reopening? Not crappy, fast-dying downtown office rental units, but good ol’ hipster hotdesking, sprawling sofas and untreated wood furniture as coworking space. You know, the ones with free coffee…and snacks. In fact, I’m constantly being offered 24-hour trial subscriptions to new coworking sites around town. If I planned the trial days in order, I could probably live on free snacks for a week.
Come to think of it, at our past in-person union meetings, we always set up a table full of chips and sandwiches. Obviously, we cannot do this for our Zoomers. Surely that can’t be why the former were more popular, can it? Crisps/crisps and sandwiches…really?
The answer came this week as I walked away from my hot office and out into the cold night to attend a super boring, strictly real-life annual general meeting of my local hiking club. A little fresh air, I thought. When I arrived, the room was packed, with well over 50% of the total members present, in person. Even the regional director of the national federation came, as well as the persons in charge of the sports center and even a representative of the mayor of the town hall.
Wow, we could all learn a lesson here on how to keep people coming back to IRL. All other local clubs were forced to Zoom and Skype at their mandatory general meetings due to lack of attendance. But no remote, no hybrid for these guys and the place was packed. What is it here, I asked?
A shrug. “Free drinks afterwards,” was the reply.
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance tech enthusiast, juggling tech journalism, training, and digital publishing. He would have liked to investigate more about the potential of hybrid meetings, but felt a little hungry and went in search of an actual meeting. More to Autosave is for Wimps and @alidabbs.