Working from Home (or Not)

The tribulations of a home-bound colleague prompts our anonymous blogger to wonder whatever happened to the dream of remote working?

There is a dream we’ve been consistently sold since the 1950s and which we are still being sold today. One however that seemingly remains just tantalisingly out of reach, like that screwdriver you dropped with an apparent 1 in 1000 (although from empirical evidence actually 1 in 1) chance of disappearing down the gap between the workbench and wall.

By now weren’t we supposed to be able to roll out of bed, smile whimsically at our car, fire up the A0 size touchscreen in our study and start work whilst stood in pyjamas drinking a cup of coffee? To design parts which fit into a machine being built half way across the globe as 2.4 children plus indeterminate dog frolic on our beautifully manicured lawn? Personal recent experience makes what we have at present feel, in comparison, like an Etch-a-sketch attached to a wax cylinder.

The whole sorry tale started when a friend and colleague recently suffered a mishap that left him incapacitated. This in turn led to a protracted convalescence and those who decide such things have come to the conclusion that, due to the restrictions his injury places on his mobility, he would be in danger of burning to the ground if a fire broke out and he was in the office.

Possibly due to the somewhat soggy summer we have thus far endured he does not see this as the boon one might expect and so jumped, metaphorically at least, at the chance of working from home. Him being a design engineer, and this being the 21st Century, I thought it would just be a case of trotting over with a CAD enabled laptop. How wrong could I have been

The first attempt at delivering the device led to an eager grasping of it as I stepped through the door… and finding that despite IT’s assurances it didn’t have the required licenses. Much shaking of heads, wry smiles and audible tutting then off I went with it so I could get it back into work the next day. A brief explanation to the Morlocks of the IT department on the following day led to arcane chanting over the recalcitrant machine – or whatever they do – and once more I dropped it off on the way home. 

Said machine once more resolutely refused to play ball. This happened 4 times in total before my colleague was finally set up to work from home and by that time our response to the computer’s repeated obstinacy had changed to much swearing and threats of “booting it up” that had nothing to do with switching it off and switching it back on again (and everything to do with reducing the fiendish device to its basic components through the scientific application of extreme violence). Even then he is left with working on standalone parts which will have to be incorporated into our CAD database upon his return. Surely, at the very least it should be easier than this by now?