Episode 5 "What's your opinion of this?" The Boss asks, handing over a brochure for a laptop.
"Seems OK to me," the PFY says "Reasonably cheap, good enough specs. I'm surprised you're looking at getting one though as there's no fancy bells as whistles."
"Oh it's not for me!" The Boss gasps, digging out yet another brochure from his briefcase. "Heavens no! Anyway, what do you think of this?"
"Hmmmm, a 64 seat 56k Modem pool - how... er.. last century," The PFY says.
"Last century?! But it's got data compression!" The Boss adds defensively.
"So do most of my smutty pictures," The PFY says, without missing a beat. "But surely we should be living in the Now?"
"Meaning we'd expect our people to be using ADSL or broadband of some sort, not dialup."
"And isn't 64 seats a little bit overkill don't you think?" I add. "I mean we'd be lucky to get ten people using the existing pool."
"Yes, but if we implement the new work-from-home scheme those numbers would rise," The Boss burbles with a measure of triumph.
"Work from home?"
"Yes. The company's been considering it for a while now and the Head of IT's asked me to implement it."
"It seems that a lot of current research suggests that companies like ours can actually achieve performance gains and associated savings by allowing staff to work from home one or two days a week."
"But surely that research could be reinterpreted to mean that companies like ours have a high proportion of staff who just arse around at work?" I ask.
"I don't think so. The numbers are very positive - In fact in some cases productivity was seen to double!"
"Twice nothing is still nothing," The PFY adds sagely.
"HEY!" I cry, having a brainstorm. "What about if we implemented a work from work scheme?”
"What do you mean by 'twice nothing'?" the Boss asks, ignoring me.
"He means that some of our staff don't do anything anyway - but to look on the bright side at least with the work-from-home scheme they wouldn't take up office space."
"And that's the main point," The Boss says. "We're paying very high rentals for our office space, power, cleaning, etc, and if we got staff to work from home for a day a week and implemented a deskless office we'd be cable to consolidate the office space and relinquish an entire floor"
"Deskless office?" the PFY says
"Ah” I respond before the Boss can get involved “An office where noone has a specific desk and people use available space combined with mobile & follow-me phone technology. It's very huggy feely with everyone being friends and sharing resources"
"So it'll never work," the PFY says.
"Not a chance."
"But it makes perfect financial sense," the Boss Heimi Hendersons.
"Suit yourself," I say.
"So you're not actually averse to the ideal of trialling a work-from-home?"
"On the contrary. I think it's a fantastic idea," I say.
"Really?" the Boss chirps, happy that he's not going to have to defend the idea to anyone.
"Sure! I mean if we get some of the deadwood working from home there's the distinct possibility their wives will catch them browsing porn for half the day and they'll get the kicking they so richly deserve!!!"
“And everyone wins!” The PFY says.
"I doubt that people waste that much of the day," The Boss says.
"I think you'd be surprised. Some of our staff spend about three hours a day posting to a Hi-Tech audio blogsite."
"There's nothing dodgy about that!" The Boss gasps.
"It could be argued that there is when you spend about several hours every working day commenting on Class A & B amplifier design theory!" The PFY says.
"But that's just a hobby, not pornography!"
"Using that reasoning, if I called pornography a hobby could I spend three hours a day on it?" The PFY asks.
"Of course not!"
"Ah well, never mind. But back to the issue at hand. The company wants this to save money on rent, yes?" I ask.
"And they have no problem spending stacks of cash on the deskless office idea, laptops, mobile phone calling and ADSL subscriptions?"
"Which would still work out at less than they're spending on rent?"
"And it's better than just firing people?"
"We can't do that and you know it. The unions would be all over us."
"What about - and this is just off the top of my head - forming an offshoot company and giving everyone the option of 'transferring' to the new 'work-from-home' company which will lease out one of the floors we vacate."
"The deadwood would be in there like a rat up a drainpipe," The PFY adds.
"Then, in three months time say, just send the company bankrupt - or alternatively just let our beancounters run it into the ground..."
"And as a result...we've saved rent and...reduced our non-performing workforce?" The Boss asks. "Hmm. How many people do you think we'll be able to get to go?"
"I'm guessing most of the Beancounters, all of PR and Marketing, about half of the PAs and some business analysts. Maybe 50."
"So we're talking 50 laptops," The Boss mumbles wandering off quickly to get the order in.
"Fifty?" The PFY says dubiously.
"Not a chance, so many middle and upper middle managers will apply that the idea'll be canned quicker than you can say constructive dismissal. Sure, we'll end up with a stockpile of brand new laptops which we will be unable to return because they'll be...shop-soiled..."
"I swear it shall be done!" The PFY chirps.
"Which just leaves..."
"Listing them on eBay with a ridiculously low reserve," The PFY adds, grabbing the brochure the Boss left behind. "I'll get right onto it!"
"Right then, if anyone wants me I'll be... "
"Working from home?"
"Exactly!" I say, leaving for the pub.