Lunch is for wimps

I think I must be getting old… sorry, mature; we’re not allowed to use the ‘O’ word in HR anymore, even if it is to describe ourselves.

We’ll probably be arrested, tried and consigned to the bin that says ‘prejudiced’ over it.

So, I must be getting mature…

I was one of the cadre of people who genuinely did think lunch was for wimps. As was a life! I lived by the mantra ‘play hard, but work harder’ and I still do, although my extreme view of this situation has been mitigated somewhat.

But I was working with a business in the Lake District last week and I started out being frustrated with them, but ended up wondering who was right and who was wrong. And I think I probably know the answer even before I start to write.

You see, I think the way this business is set up is probably sensible; it’s just that it’s alien to me.

I arrived at their doors on Wednesday at about 8.30 in the morning – a late start for me. There was no-one there. I wondered if I had the wrong day and was just about to try and call someone (it being 8.50 by now) when the person I was to meet, admittedly at 9.00, turned up.

We had an excellent meeting and covered a lot of ground and the guy invited me out to lunch. Great, I thought, but was surprised when he asked the rest of the office to come along with us. So it was that seven people traipsed into the pub next door… and this, clearly, wasn’t a rare occurrence as the waiter greeted every member of staff by name and asked if I was joining the team!

The afternoon, which began an hour later, was as good as the morning: some excellent time spent with the team talking about HR and what it meant to them.

When it came to about 4.45 I asked my new friend (after all, we’d had lunch together) whether I could perch at a desk somewhere to write up my notes.

‘Of course,’ he said. ‘But I’m not sure you’re going to get much done in fifteen minutes… that’s when the office closes for the day.’

And closed it did, with the staff on their way home by 5.05.

As I was driving back to Edinburgh I pondered on my day, shaking my head occasionally at a business that seemed so laid back, and clearly wasn’t getting as much done as it could.

I compared it to my own day: up at sparrow’s fart to get to a meeting a hundred miles away, a day in their office, home late, type up notes from the day, do my emails, make ‘phone calls from the car on the way home (hands free and legal, of course), grab something to eat on the way home, feel tired the next day, but get to the office early anyway…

You get the picture.

And the conclusion to my ponderings?

Well, I have to say, the business I visited was very successful, the staff motivated and, whilst they were at work, they were efficient, too.

I don’t think my own business is any less successful and is, perhaps, more profitable, because we shift the work with fewer people.

But what about sustainability? Can I sustain the rate at which I work forever? Well, I’ve done it for ten years, so the answer is probably ‘yes’.

It made me think though and I did take the weekend off, with no work at home.

That, I admit, may have been a mistake; ‘cos I was knackered all weekend!

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