Give us a break and let us work!


Imagine the conversation.

Boss: “What are you doing?”

Me: “Writing up a risk assessment for the programme I’m working on.”

Boss: “But you’re at your desk.”

Me: “Er, yes…..”

Boss: “Then why aren’t you doing any work?”

Me: “Well, as I said I’m writing a risk assessment for…”

Boss: “How can you possibly be working when you are at your desk?! If you are not in a meeting then you are obviously wasting time and there’s plenty of other work I can give you. For example, make me a cup of tea but be sure to only stir anti-clockwise…”

Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the gist of it is a true story. Recently we got an e-mail from our Director which said she will be checking our diaries over the coming weeks to see how busy we are.  If we have lots of empty space then she will be handing over some more work to do.

Firstly, at what stage did a meeting constitute a good way to spend most of your working day?  The overwhelming majority of meetings are pointless exercises designed to allow morons to feel important and that they are doing something.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes they are really useful and end up with some good actions and outcomes, but most of the time I don’t even bother taking a pen as I know there will be nothing worth writing down in it and no actions for me to take.  It’s a bit like being a celebrity at the Oscars; if you are not there people will notice but the show will go on, and if we’re honest the real work is done outside of the show anyway.

The absurdity of thinking that if you are not talking with people you are not working is beyond belief – when do they think we actually get things done?  Those 1-pagers and briefings that are demanded actually take some screen time to produce, projects need to be properly planned and e-mails need to be responded to; unless of course you want to invest in some kind of brainwave-reading speech recognising robot to obey your every command and churn out whatever you need whenever you need it, responding to every request for advice or support from anyone across any public sector organisation in the city.

What’s that I hear you say, you already have a team of those? That’s right, it’s us, your team who try to be one step ahead of your ever changing whims and make sure that the information you need is at your fingertips before they are even extended in our general direction.

Give us a break. Give us some desk time.

And yes, those are five words I never thought I would type and actually mean.

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