in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #249 — Loughborough to Leicester

Going to have to take your word for it, Gartner.

Going to have to take your word for it, Gartner.

This week felt as though I spent a lot of time in the office on video calls. I’ve been trying to adhere to the mandate of being in the office for the majority of the week, as well as sticking to our agreed ‘team days’ of Mondays and Thursdays. It feels bizarre to commute to the office for a day filled with back-to-back video calls in order to hit an arbitrary number of days, but I’ve stopped thinking about it too much.

Quite a few of our team were in Johannesburg this week, hosting the final Technology ‘town hall’-style meeting for the year. The rest of us dialled in remotely. Our week centred around this event, with a number of final preparation and dress rehearsal meetings to check both the running order and the audio/visual setup. The day couldn’t have got off to a worse start; a sudden Technology emergency meant that some of the speakers couldn’t be there. The team did a brilliant job of quickly improvising to keep the session on track. I was grateful to get to stay in the UK. It’s lovely and rejuvenating to go and visit the team in Johannesburg, but I’m keen to avoid business travel if I can.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had a number of meetings discussing and planning the design of a new office that we will be moving into in one of our cities next year. We have to finalise the design in order to sign the lease, as the majority of the fit-out work is included in the rental cost. One of the best things about my job is the breadth of things that I get involved with. I’ve never been this involved in the design of an office before. There’s so much to learn every week.
  • Ran a short workshop to run through the status of all of the 160+ ‘components’ that make up each of our offices, from the lease upwards. It was great to get the whole of our management team on the same page. We only got halfway through, so need to follow up with a part two next week.
  • Reviewed the submitted responses from a landlord as part of our vendor on-boarding process.
  • Met with a sister company to review the initial ideas for how we can revamp the communal spaces in a building that we share.
  • Tried to push forward with a decision on whether we will formally engage a vendor that we have been speaking to for most of this year.
  • Met with representatives from two of our vendors to look at whether it is feasible for companies to share Microsoft Teams Room (MTR) installations. Our conclusion is: you really shouldn’t.
  • Caught up with the Head of Strategy Enablement for one of our business areas to discuss how they are asking staff to manage their documentation. There is a conflict with how we have asked staff to do this across our region. I’m keen to ensure that they are left to focus on their work while we get to a resolution that suits everyone.
  • Ran our monthly Lean Coffee session. As a direct result of the discussion in the meeting we’ve set up an internal informal chat channel for the whole team.
  • Refreshed the videos running on our digital signage players around the office. A combination of Downie and Permute allows me to grab a video and its auto-generated subtitles from YouTube so that I can burn them into a new video file that will be played silently on our screens. I’ve now set up an alert for our company’s main social media channel so that I can grab any new and relevant content as it is published.
  • Was given feedback that I’m too negative in a couple of forums that I attend. I welcome this; if someone was brave enough to say it to me then I am sure that there are others that are thinking the same thing. I seem to be a lone voice on the risks and downsides of new technologies that we are investigating, so I often play the role of tempering the enthusiasm of the rest of the group. A good example is that Microsoft Copilot gives you the ability to catch up with whatever you missed if you join a meeting late: my concern is that this gives people another reason to not join meetings on time, giving us a worse company culture. I’ll keep giving the feedback, but with the knowledge that I have to turn the volume up on my positive comments as well. (I’ve also been wondering whether not being particularly thick-skinned is a good or a bad thing. Probably the former, but it does bother me that I end up thinking about things like this for a while.)
  • Watched 45 minutes of A Haunting In Venice (2023) before switching it off. Utter drivel.
  • Had a parking fine land on my doormat. I’ve never disputed a penalty before but I’m annoyed at this one; I stopped with the engine running while my wife nipped into a shop, keeping my car well out of the way of other traffic. It’s now ‘on hold’ while they respond to my challenge.
  • Felt frustrated in my attempts to get people across the wider organisation to turn their cameras on in meetings. How do you go about changing a broad company culture? Am I wrong to pursue it? Am I doomed to fail? Has anyone else cracked it?
  • Was reminded that a text-based chat is no substitute for hitting the ‘dial’ button and having a face-to-face conversation with someone, especially when you want to give some feedback.
  • Spent a cold and slushy Sunday up in Loughborough and Leicester as my eldest son was attending an England Athletics Youth Training Programme National Day. I had eight hours to kill and thought I might spend them in Loughborough, but abandoned the plan when I found barely anything there.
  • Finally dived in and started to get myself set up with Obsidian. It meets my need for having my digital notes encrypted when they are in the cloud. I’m glad I took the time to watch a few videos beforehand and let the concepts sink in over a couple of weeks. Backlinks are a game-changer. Within the next few weeks I hope to have removed Dynalist from my workflow. I’ll write a longer post about it at some point.
  • Started to use Kagi as a default search engine after a few months with DuckDuckGo. Both seem to yield consistently better results than Google. Kagi is a “premium search engine” in that it is supported by paid subscriptions rather than advertisements. It isn’t yet available as a default search engine on iOS/iPadOS so is a little clunkier to get to, but I’m hoping that will change with time.
  • Was mildly shocked by my ‘wrapped’ summary in Pocket Casts. I’m not sure this was the goal that their marketing team were going for. I guess it answers my question of whether I’m listening to too many podcasts and not enough music.
Time well spent?

Time well spent?

Next week: Four days in the office, meeting up with old friends and hosting another Album Club.

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