CategoriesHarrogate

Return to the Office

Quite rightly, Covid has given us the chance to reconsider our lives. Nobody, it seems, wants to return to commuting. Environmentally, this is indisputably a good thing.

Home working – which my firm has been doing for years – has countless benefits. The negatives, however, have not enjoyed enough oxygen yet. A balance – a harmony – is usually optimal. For knowledge workers like me, it is our solemn duty to train the next generation. It’s a mistake to think that such training can happen remotely. It can’t.

I posted about to this issue on Linkedin. In response, one professional put it elegantly: “It’s difficult to replicate the on-the-job learning, snatched questions, observations and ‘ear-wigging’ of conversations etc. which all contribute to a lawyer’s development.” Indeed.

Although I have been back in the office for months, I appeared in this week’s Harrogate Advertiser, given that this is the week that Reckless Boris has pushed the return to the office. Here is my quote to the paper, though only a few words were used:

“The duty of any professional person is to train the next generation. Such training cannot all take place by Zoom, email or telephone. This training – often by osmosis – must take place in person. Too many employers are making the mistake – which isn’t easily fixed – of thinking that their junior staff can learn their profession adequately from their spare rooms (if they have them).

Pre-Covid, for most knowledge workers – particularly lawyers, for whom I can speak about – it was farcical that so many were forbidden to work from home. During and post-Covid, many businesses have gone too far. Harrogate businesses must find a middle-ground.

If all professionals are now home-workers, then the main factor which will determine for whom you work is pay. Many jobs will therefore be outsourced to cheaper countries. Though home-working, which crushes the curse of presenteeism, is perhaps more meritocratic, new people to an organisation will struggle to bed-in. Any existing cliques will continue. Through home-working, the culture of an organisation will slowly perish.

The pandemic reminds us all – should we need reminding – that we are all, from a health perspective, inextricably linked. What’s more, the pandemic has revealed that, economically, we are also inextricably connected: if some businesses collapse, then so will others. Harrogate is at precipice: we must act in unison to save it. Adhering to guidance, the businesses of Harrogate must return to the office, for our town needs our presence and our cash.”

Here is the story in the paper:

Harrogate Advertiser September 3 2020 A

Harrogate Advertiser September 3 2020 B

CategoriesHarrogate

Improved Online Schooling During Lockdown

My children have now been away from school for two months. Disappointingly and surprisingly, their teachers have not called to check in on them. Via email, we have received exercises to complete. It isn’t easy to home-school and work full-time.

Over the last three weeks (perhaps prompted by my letter), all they have had is one hour of contact, per week, with their respective teachers. It has been the highlight of their lockdown, as of course it would be. Simply, this isn’t enough.

I realise that my kids are privileged: I blogged (not bragged) about our life as a family here, my most popular post. My fear isn’t for my children, rather I’m most concerned for children who aren’t as fortunate.

After huffing and puffing, I decided to do something additional about it. Below is my petition, which I have sent to North Yorkshire County Council. I fear that their website will not permit online signatures. Let’s see what develops.

I want to record, for my kids, that I tried to do something about it.

Action required:

We, the undersigned, request that during lockdown, all North Yorkshire County Council schools provide 9-3pm optional online lessons for their pupils. We note that most private schools are providing optional online full lessons. State-educated children need more interaction with their teachers.

We thank the teachers, teaching assistants and support staff who have provided schooling in person to children of key workers.

We are concerned that disadvantaged children are suffering most during this crisis. We request that disadvantaged children are provided with the appropriate equipment necessary to take part in online lessons.

 

CategoriesHarrogate

Local Tory-Imposed Austerity

Conservative Councillor Skidmore, of Ripon, celebrated our council’s 16.7 per cent drop in funding by telling our local paper:

“Everybody is feeling the same pain, perhaps some more than others, but we have got to put the sovereign debt issue to bed and the only way of doing that is to stop spending,” he said.

“It’s like if you don’t want to get fat, don’t eat – stop eating cream cakes.”

Such economically backward thinking is going to cause a crisis; such a poor analogy. If you want to lose some weight, how about you do some exercise? Similarly, if you want to stimulate the economy, so that more people are in employment and the tax take increases, do some spending.

The Tory lie that this country is like a household seems to resonate with the public. But when a household cuts it’s spending, it doesn’t have to think about the wider economy. But when a Government cuts spending the net effect is the depression of the economy. The Tories, arch-clingers-on to the past, are making the same mistakes that were made in the 1930s.

And what makes me particularly angry with the likes of Councillor Skidmore is that he implies that he doesn’t want to see a reduction in the council budget, but this is political raison d’être: to reduce, by any means possible, the effectiveness of the state.

So, no crocodile tears, councillor; the people will see straight through you in the end. You know that the cuts are ideological. This is what you came into politics for.