Back to work. My main thought when I landed at my desk on Monday morning was how lucky I am that being in front of my keyboard is my happy place. Well, at least one of my happy places, anyway. It was good to be back.
It was one of those weeks where I felt that I put my seatbelt on and rode the rollercoaster all the way to Friday afternoon. The week was filled with catching up with Teams messages, emails and meeting recordings, with lots of new meetings to go to as well. But I did enjoy it.
This was a week in which I:
- Started playing with a trial of Teams Premium. It’s a strange bundle of enhancements. The feature I am most interested in is the AI-generated summaries and suggested actions for recorded meetings. Having used it for a week, it has got me thinking deeply about the potential disillusionment ahead for these kinds of tools. The marketing hype has been so loud that there is no way that it can meet the expectations that have been created.
- Completed updates for our quarterly report to the company board.
- Chased up documentation for on-boarding an external vendor as well as the next draft of the contract.
- Attended the steering committee for a real estate programme.
- Joined a conversation about tweaks to the design of one of our office spaces.
- Met with the project team for the move of one of our offices planned for next year.
- Continued team-by-team conversations for our unstructured data management initiative.
- Attended a half-day hybrid workshop between colleagues across our company and a well-known IT consulting vendor to discuss artificial intelligence. Separately, it seems that not a week goes by without some kind of AI-focused webinar being in the diary; they rarely have anything significantly new or interesting to say.
- Reviewed our team’s approach to Microsoft software updates across our endpoint estate and agreed next steps.
- Had a number of conversations about a set of technical issues that the team have been dealing with for the past few weeks. Suggested that we go right back to where we started to see if there are different approaches to getting us to where we want to be as opposed to trying to fix a number of components of the current solution.
- Caught up on the plans for an event that our team are hosting at the end of November.
- Enjoyed our weekly Learning Hour, where our development team took us through the architecture of a system that they have built.
- Had a great conversation with my team on the implicit assumptions that we make and when they can be harmful.
- Took part in a number of conversations about mental health and how someone can be going through something that is completely invisible to everyone around them.
- Had a meeting with a young man who joined us in the office for a day’s work experience. There’s nothing like talking to someone who is 17 to make you realise how long ago it was that you were in his shoes.
- Recommenced a review of my team’s Kanban board, looking at all of the tasks/features. The cleanup is going to take a few sessions but it is so worthwhile; we’ve ditched a number of tasks, have made sure we all understand the cards that are left and have decided that the ‘do some research on this new thing and decide’ cards should really be Learning Hour talks. More to come next week.
- Heard that Verizon are sunsetting the BlueJeans platform after having acquired it three years ago. BlueJeans was my first regular everyday videoconferencing tool back in 2017 but its desktop application seemed to be stuck in the past. The technology was great for bridging between modern platforms such as Teams with legacy IP-based videoconference rooms; if a company has a need for this I’m not sure what tools will do it as easily.
- Thought about how children are inadvertently brought into the workplace through people now working at home, which means that we need to watch our language in meetings.
- Met with a colleague to talk through some ‘team building’ ideas. (What’s a better phrase for ‘team building’ that doesn’t have all of the negative baggage?)
- Went to a colleague’s leaving celebration at a pub near the office, another sign of post-pandemic normality. Had a great long conversation with a colleague who humoured me as I geeked out with questions about how her day is structured and how she goes about her work. I have, and have always had, so many meetings every week and it was interesting to hear how she has very few.
- Watched Hijack on Apple TV+ as recommended by a friend. It was cheesy in places but enjoyable enough to keep me coming back for the next episode. I wonder if I’m doing something wrong with the Apple TV+ interface in that we always have to remember ourselves what the last episode was of something we are watching; there seems to be no way of just jumping back in where you left off.
- Was pleased that my eldest boy got the results he needed in his GCSEs to take on the A-Levels that he wants to do. Only one week of the school holidays to go.
- Took one for the team by picking up my son and three of his pals from Reading Festival on Sunday night/Monday morning. We didn’t make it back until 2am; it was amusing to see each of them get out of the car and shuffle towards their respective front doors, slightly broken from a couple of days of raving. They all seemed to have had a brilliant time.
- Tried to complete the deletion of all of the tweets and likes on my Twitter account, using Tweeteraser. I’ve got rid of most of the 30,000 tweets but 409 ‘ghost’ tweets remain, none of which I can see from the web interface. Deleting likes doesn’t seem to work using the tool, but I can’t see myself removing nearly 5,000 of them manually. I’ve sent an email to the support team, but given that it’s surprising that the tool works at all following the restrictions that Twitter has imposed on its API, I don’t hold out much hope.
- Had a belated anniversary dinner out with my wife at Tabure in Berkhamsted, which didn’t disappoint. The food is fantastic.
- Met up with lots of friends for a late lunch/early dinner. They were incredible hosts and it was so lovely to get together with so many friends all in one place.
- Booked some business travel for the first time in a while.
Next week: Only four days at work, with hopefully a bit more time outside of meetings to get things done.