Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Mutually agreed.

Angus has used the time freed up by lockdown to set up a little AI Company. Presidents Day in the US catches him by surprise. Everyone, including the bearded statisticians in Charlottesville, are taking the day off. When did Presidents Day become a thing ?  However, the bright young folks who write algorithms and collate data trees in a London warehouse are working. The young woman who runs the show is no longer breast feeding. Angus wonders if  Miss Manners would consider breast feeding while video conferencing is an intimacy too far ? The algorithm folk  take it in turns to visit their office. Never more than three of them in at a time. The rest, the vast majority, work from home. Home working is proving to be such a success that they're thinking of scaling back their office space. If they reduce the floorspace they rent by 50% they can afford to increase everyones salary by $20k a year, boost their profits and set aside money for post lockdown quarterly morale building trips to exotic places. The cost of providing the state of the art systems and software to maximize home working has cost them $4,500 a head. Seems somethings will never quite be the same. It also seems that productivity has increased and that most folks haven't 'abused' the system. 

Sophie is hoisted onto the grooming table for a thorough once over. After thirty minutes we reach that mutually agreed  cross over point where squirming and wailing make further progress impossible. We agree to call it quits until another day. Sophie makes it quite plain what she thinks about this interruption to her routine.



  1. Poor Sophie, subjected to such indignities. Your anecdote about the company in London is fascinating. There's been a lot of speculation about what longer-term remote working will mean for real estate, but this is the first time I've read how a company is thinking creatively about what to do with the rent they save. It seems it will take some time to see how it all shakes out, and I am relieved to realize I am now at a stage in my worklife where I don't have to worry so much how these disruptions are going to affect me personally, so I can just sit back and think "how fascinating." I hope that your new business will prosper in whatever the new environment turns out to be. Regarding President's Day, I had also forgotten all about it and was surprised the markets were closed on Monday. I am a faithful follower on Twitter of the presidential historian Michael Beschloss. Today, he is harrumphing about the holiday, which used to be Washington's Birthday and somehow morphed - his point being that not all presidents warrant celebration.

  2. Before we read the grooming bit we had thought that Sophie was looking rather suave. Tigger loves a daily grooming (and regular vacuum cleaning) and shepherds his nearest human to his grooming station immediately after breakfast.

  3. My husband works for an American company, here in New Zealand. When he was first employed in 1999, it was EDS, then after a few years it was some variants of HP which lasted until recently when he now works for DXC. At no point during the last 22 years has physical place of employment changed. He regularly desked shared with another employee for the best part of 15 years ie husband would be at next one week and work from home the next week. He has been working from
    home since March last year when New Zealand went in our first lock down. DXC was recently down sized their premises in Wellington, New Zealand to the extent that it will be highly unlikely that my husband and most of his fellow co-workers would be physically able to find a desk to work from should they feel some reason to go to work. Very interesting times. From a county that has gone in to lock down for three cases of community transmission.

  4. You never cease to amaze. Masayoshi Son is all in on AI, despite detours into things like WeWork and Uber. Beware of cyber-risk for remote workers.
    There was not only Washington's birthday on the 22nd but Lincoln's on the 13th. They were merged into President's Day, always on a Monday. You can find all holidays on timeanddate.com (also great for setting up meetings in other time zones). Personally, I am sick to death of working from home and want nothing more than to put on a suit again and go into an office. Work from home was great while my kid was little, but now it's just lonely.
    Re feeding babies, as long as no flesh was on camera, what's the harm? When my kid was born, my boss let me work from home and I often delivered work and milk simultaneously. No video conferences, but I certainly stopped on my outings (in NY at that time) for feedings, and nobody ever noticed. There are very clever clothes that make it look like one is simply holding a sleeping baby.

  5. Fascinating to learn about the new AI company and of course I'm wondering about the exact nature of the business. I wonder if in years to come we will look back at the years immediately preceding the Covid pandemic and wonder how on earth it came about that firms were paying eye-watering sums for office space in London (and other major cities) when all along we had the wherewithal to organise thing better and cheaper.
    Cheers, Gail.