of the Head of a University Campus, social entrepreneur, business owner, composer and volunteer at a local sports club. It was a Thursday and the sun was shining during most of the daylight hours.
The morning started with a breakfast meeting, the Barnsley Work and Skills Board with some positive news on the UK economic front, unemployment rates are steadily falling and there were thousands of jobs advertised in the area. The negative news was that youth unemployment is still high and there is no more financial assistance from anywhere for development of the existing workforce other than by investment from the employer. These employers are still wary of investing in their employees after the long months of uncertainty during the recession.
The Town has a great success rate in getting new enterprises off the ground and keeping them running. There is a well organised apprenticeship scheme established in the area but many employers are still unsure of the value of these workers, mainly because of the time commitments they perceive the training will take. Not too much of a liability if you talk to others that have taken the plunge and welcomed an apprentice into their company but there is still a need for education and promotion of the scheme to convince business owners of the advantages.
After the meeting there was time for a takeaway coffee and a chance meeting with one of the Town’s art gallery curators and a quick discussion on how to keep the Barnsley Art Walk alive and interesting. Meeting face to face and talking is an ideal way to develop ideas and projects, other people have interesting and different views on how to progress a concept which can assist in the evaluating and perfecting of a plan, just as long as you are prepared to listen.
Then it was into the office for the usual administration duties/e-mail reading and replying. How many e-mails is usual in a day? I received a typical 75 during the day and over 20 telephone calls. I’m sure it was only a band with a big fan-base that received that many letters before the advent of the electronic mail system. Do we write more these days or just copy more people into our messages? Would a telephone call be a more efficient use of time to get to a conclusion? Perhaps if we fully considered the string of responses, replies and others that may be included when asking a question, the quick phone call may complete the request and lead to less e-mails = more efficiency.
After reading and replying to the first e-mail batch of the day it was preparation time for the afternoon’s staff meeting, just making sure everyone would have the information to read and take away with them as well as being able to flash it up on screen. This was followed by a corridor discussion with colleagues regarding infrastructure upgrades that will affect everyone on the Campus and how to minimise the obvious disruption. Do people still have a lunch-hour?
It used to be an hour, I remember at the factory I worked in, my first summer job, all the machinery stopped between 12 and 1. There was no canteen but the kettles went on and groups of workers sat, chatted, got the newspaper out and had a break in peace. Talking with friends who work in some of the large distribution centres that have been built locally, this hour has been eroded over the years, many have a canteen but the distance between their work space and the food means there is an eight to ten minute walk followed by a short lunch and then walk back again to be ready to start work as soon as the clock counts down.
Many people that bring their own food to work do not move from their seats during the lunchtime. They still look at the screen in front of them, or a different screen if they have brought in an electronic book, and the demarcation between lunch and work is so blurred it is impossible to know if they ever take a break.
After my lunch break, which was taken in a different room away from the computer, I held a meeting with the academic staff. The Campus is going through many changes and it was good to get everyone together to see if there were any concerns, share intelligence, questions and look to see if there were any matters that could be resolved in the short and long term before they become problematic. New systems were discussed and the dates for some of the changes, always useful that everyone knows as much as possible during these times, even if some of the information is incomplete because of third-party involvement.
The knock on the door and “have you got a minute?” or “this won’t take long” or “can I just chat this through with you?” invariably takes longer than the visitor suggests. They are often concerns that can be discussed to a conclusion or there may be a more appropriate person who can help and it is just a matter of connecting the two or it may mean some investment/a change of practice or it could be a significant issue that requires many people to be involved. All of these take time and two minutes is often two hours worth of work.
Eventually got home for a relaxed meal but the garden was parched, watering was needed and I have probably lost a few plants. Last year was almost constant rain and I got out of the habit of watering and many of the plants did not grow well but this year has been warmer and dryer and everything has grown very well. Now I have to remember to water more regularly to keep them going.
Thursday night is quiz night at the local sports club and as a member it has become routine to attend and support the teams on this fundraising/social evening. Of course when you meet other members there will be jobs to be shared. Posters and promotion ideas needed for the hastily arranged International match between our juniors (under 17 team) and a team from the Dubai Academy that will take place on Tuesday afternoon, orders to go out for equipment as we have just received a Sports England grant and somewhere in the middle of this answer the fifteen questions.
Eventually it was time to sleep, came third in the quiz and tomorrow is a new day and it will all start again, just in a different order and when will I find time to do some composing?.