As the UK proves once again that it can’t handle bad weather, there was an infuriating ‘talking head’ on the TV news the other day reminding all workers, everywhere, that if they can’t get in to work, they will lose pay or have to work the time up later. This fits in with this story, where the federation of Small Businesses was berating schools for closing and hence forcing parents to – gasp!! – take time off work to look after their kids.
This sort of thing angers me for a number of reasons, my anger being directed at large education authorities, employers, employer organisations and central Government in reasonably equal proportions. So, let me take today’s ‘Joe’s Jotting’ to vent my spleen at these organisations!
Surely it should be possible for Education Authorities or Local Authorities to simply state that the schools in an area are closed or open, without leaving it to the individual schools to make the decisions and also communicate the fact to the parents of children at the school? This would at least remove the anomalous situation of a family with children attending two different schools in the same area being asked to send one to school and keep the other at home.
Not having lots of folks trying to get their kids to school in bad conditions would at least reduce the load on the road system during the extended morning and afternoon peak traffic periods that result from bad weather. Also, perhaps employers themselves should start planning for these occasions by looking at whether all jobs actually require the member of staff to be at their desk. I’d argue that many higher clerical and administrative / management jobs don’t require this at all; it’s just tradition and distrust that means that an employer likes to have their staff present all the time. Perhaps employers need to start looking at what aspects of the job CAN be done remotely, and then start utilising technology to facilitate this. After all, most homes these days have a fast(ish) Internet connection which would allow them to access their office PC remotely, and it’s not beyond the ability of man to redirect office phones to the home number for a few days. Of course, this requires planning, but as we’re likely to have more of this sort of weather then this planning should be done. Of course, some jobs do require people there – retail, manufacturing and logistics, for example.
We also have the ludicrous situation of employer’s organisations and large companies publicly announcing how staff will lose pay if they don’t turn in, when at the same time motoring organisations and the Police are saying ‘Only travel if absolutely necessary’. I would argue that few jobs are necessary except in order to earn a wage or a profit, and whilst those are VERY important reasons to work or run a business ( 🙂 ) it is perhaps time for joined up thinking. Why not have the Government in a position of announcing ‘Snow days’ based on advice from Police, etc. for particular areas. Once announced, that’s it. We actively encourage people to stay out of their cars, to NOT walk 10 miles to spend 2 hours pushing paper around a desk, to not send their kids to school (ahhh…they’d also be closed!) and generally encourage a state of affairs where people are at home or in their immediate communities, the roads are clearer for vital traffic, etc.
Of course – this would involve either loss of wages to the worker or loss of profits to the company concerned – this would encourage companies to really look at what could be done ‘off site’, but would almost certainly need some degree of financial support from the Government. However, if these costs were offset against savings made in the ‘on costs’ incurred when people are trying to get to work in these conditions, it might not be too excessive.
Certainly not more than bailing out the odd bank or two….
And then we get to personal planning…how ridiculous it is that people buy 15 loaves of bread when it looks like being snowy for a day or two. But that’s another story!