Thursday, 2 December 2010

There's Snow Point Complaining...

Well, the snow has finally reached East London overnight - about 4" down, not as bad as Feb 2009 or even earlier this year. Mrs Stodge has braved the conditions to venture to work while I will toil alone here in the realtive warmth.

As usual, the industry that is whingeing about the snow has gone into overdrive once it's reached the London area. Some buffoon journalist from the Daily Mirror who was on Sky News complained about how it was possible for the Prime Minister to get back from Zurich where it was snowy.

Now, Zurich is in Switzerland where it snows EVERY YEAR and they manage accordingly. Snow in this country, despite recent events, isn't that common especially in the south and Boris Johnson wa superb in his defence of current arrangements earlier in the year. For extreme events which occur rarely (and they wouldn't be considered extreme if they occurred all the time), it would be irresponsible for any Government to invest millions of pounds in equipment which might be unused for years.

Those parts of the country more used to snow are coping perfectly well but it is the more densely populated areas such as London and the South-East which are suffering this morning and so it's news. A few problem areas which do seem more evident this time are the vulnerability of road haulage - images of miles of lorries stuck suggest an issue with how we move goods round the country. Trains seem vulnerable though some companies seem to be coping better than others.

A longer-term issue seems to be how we are still, even in this technological age, a desk-based work culture. I'm able to work at home and I suspect millions of others COULD but there is a huge and deep-seated cultural reluctance from many organisations to allow workers to work at places other than offices. Individuals are also reluctant as for many they want a clear distinction between their work lives and home lives.

Nonetheless, with public transport systems buckling under not only normal demand but bad weather conditions, it's time for Government and industry and workers to take a renewed look at the work-life balance (an early idea of the Prime Minister) and actively promote (perhaps through tax incentives) the concept of flexible working. For organisations, there are clear gains as property costs are reduced but balanced by the expense of rolling out improved technology to staff.

In an era of Broadband and wireless networking, the notions of remote, flexible or home working should all be much more advanced. The unfortunate truth is that while senior staff have tended to embrace these new work practices, inherent problems centred round cultures of present-ism which prevail in many organisations have prevented the same being rolled out to lower-ranked staff. Larger organisations are starting to see the light but regrettably Mrs Stodge's wealthy American bank isn't one of them,

Once this is all over, it will be business as usual until the next snowfall when unfortunately the snow-whingers will be back in business.

No comments: