Monday, July 16, 2012

From hell

I was not able to catch Babies in the Office this evening, but luckily the Radio Times gives me a quick summary just long enough for me to vent spleen at this dreadful idea.
Imagine an office where toddlers clamber onto knees during management meetings, toys litter the carpet and it’s fine to bottle-feed whilst on an important phone call. Does it sound like professional heaven, or the very definition of hell?
It sounds like hell.
But could bringing baby to the office ever work for ordinary parents – and their colleagues? A bold experiment in one British firm, captured on film for a new documentary, looks set to find out.

When Liam Griffin, managing director of cab firm Addison Lee, announced that he wanted to try letting some parents bring babies into his company’s London headquarters, staff were sceptical. “There were two camps: mothers were very enthusiastic about it, and those people without kids were massively unenthusiastic,” recalls Griffin.
Well, there's a fucking surprise!

Look, I find babies' whinging, crying and shouting pretty much intolerable on a ten minute train ride—why in god's name should I have to put up with it for eight hours at work too.

My job requires me to spend hours getting "into The Zone" and concentrating really hard (just one of the reason I so rarely blog these days): this kind of mental effort is difficult enough to sustain anyway, let alone having to do so with your damn kid screaming and wittering on for half the bloody day.
More practically, the scheme was a lifesaver for staff struggling with nursery fees of up to 80 a day – or forced into painful choices by the cost of childcare.
For fuck's sake, my taxes pay for your child's education, its healthcare, your Child Tax Credits, your Child Allowance and it subsidises your childcare—how much more are you going to steal from me to fund your baby-bearing lifestyle choice?
“One girl wants to have a second child, but can’t afford to,” says Mitchell.
I want a really expensive made-to-measure suit—but I can't have it because I can't fucking afford it. Why should having children be any different?*
“If we could help her, she’s going to be so loyal to us as a business.”
Yeah? I bet the rest of your employees are already polishing up their CVs.

Or as Chris Snowdon tweeted:
cjsnowdon
Next time on Babies in the Office: Addison Lee goes into administration. #babiesintheoffice
But as long as the kiddies have "softened the mood" and everyone is happy in the land of unicorns and rainbows, who cares, eh?
More practically, the scheme was a lifesaver for staff struggling with nursery fees of up to £80 a day—or forced into painful choices by the cost of childcare.
Having children is all about making hard choices. Actually, so is life.

Anyway, if only because the idea of watching a car-crash at a taxi firm amuses me, I might now go and find this programme on iPlayer.

*Oh, by the way, if my company decided that buying me the aforementioned really excellent suit would make me "so loyal to [them] as a business", the government would slap a whacking great tax on it as a benefit-in-kind.**

** Yes, yes: I know that there is probably some work clothing allowance of some sort. However, I bet it doesn't apply to really fucking expensive made-to-measure suits.

15 comments:

Macheath said...

I decided not to watch it - after a week of the run-up to the Olympics and the return of Blair, the Spouse is getting a little sick of profanity.

At no point in the reviews and associated articles could I find any indication of how the practice affects office efficiency - there was plenty about happy parents, of course, and savings on childcare, but no mention of how much work anyone really gets done.

It's hardly as if we have a culture of excellent customer service in this country to start with; imagine if the inevitable dozy jobsworth at the other end of the phone had a baby to look after as well...

Clarissa said...

My employer has got into the habit of running a 'family day' once a year. Needless to say it is a most tedious day and I'm glad I out of the way of the main floor where most of this stupidity takes place.

prog said...

Well I hope that the parents are going to make up for the lost time changing shitty nappies. Fair's fair - smokers face having their pay docked for fag breaks.

Ian E said...

'Imagine an office where toddlers clamber onto knees during management meetings'

Do you think one could bring one's girl-friend in on the same terms?

London Girl said...

"For fuck's sake, my taxes pay for your child's education, its healthcare, your Child Tax Credits, your Child Allowance and it subsidises your childcare—how much more are you going to steal from me to fund your baby-bearing lifestyle choice?"

I guess you are planning to commit suicide then before you require any kind of old age care from my child's generation.

Sim-O said...

"A bold experiment in one British firm, captured on film for a new documentary, looks set to find out."

In truth it was probably either a TV company that came up with the idea or Addison Lee after some publicity. It's such a ridiculous idea it could not have been proposed seriously.

If Addison Lee were really that concerned, they'd either pay their staff more so they could afford the childcare or set up a creche of their own.

Macheath said...

Sim-O, one article said that the practice had already been adopted by several US companies; I'm guessing there was probably some complicated childcare-related tax dodge at work there...

Sim-O said...

presumably they're companies that don't hold meetings with other businesses and don't have customers that give a shit about not being heard because of scream shit of kid on the other end of the phone.

Anonymous said...

Or maybe some litigious disabled ethnic minority lesbian feminist has threatened to sue their asses off for discrimination if she isn't allowed to bring Junior to work.

ChrisM said...

"I guess you are planning to commit suicide then before you require any kind of old age care from my child's generation."

I'v heard this cretinous point made a number of times. If your kid goes into caring for the old, they will not be doing it for free, they will be doing it for a wage which will be paid for my the Devil via either taxes and/or pension.

It is not a case of paying taxes to support other peoples children and in return getting looked after in one's old age (should that even be necessary, plenty of people die without needing to live in a home). It is a case of paying taxes to bring up someone elses kid AND paying taxes to then have that kid look after the old.

TheEdwardian said...

DK, re. that suit you want, yeah, someone tried that 30 years ago. Hizzoner weren't having it. Dual use.

http://uk.accaglobal.com/uk/members/technical/advice_support/tax/cases/business/mallalieu

Devil's Kitchen said...

London Girl,

London Girl,

"I guess you are planning to commit suicide then before you require any kind of old age care from my child's generation."

Er, no. I have taken out private health insurance and private pension funds. It means that I cannot afford to buy really excellent made-to-measure suits, but at least I will actually have some old age provision.

I suspect that anyone in their thirties (or younger) who thinks that the NI Ponzi scheme will pay them anything in their old age is sadly mistaken.

And, of course, I echo what ChrisM said above.

Sim-O,

"If Addison Lee were really that concerned, they'd [...] set up a creche of their own."

Yes, that was my view. Going by some of the rough stats in the programme, if AL have a £200 million turnover and productivity drops by 25%... Well, I can't believe that it would cost them £50 million to set up a creche...

DK

Anonymous said...

Don't understand the hostility here. OK, I'm not going to watch the programme, but here we have a private company doing something that at least some of its workers support and will benefit from. How are your taxes funding this? Nobody is forcing anyone to work there, I doubt there is anythign in their contracts saying "the workplace will be free of children", and if productivity declines because of it, well, they can always abandon the idea or just reduce people's salaries by the amount they saved (factoring taxes) by not needing to pay for childcare. Nothing to do with NI or ponzis.

Longrider said...

Comes under P11D if I recall correctly. When I had a uniform, no tax as it was covered in the company logo. When I moved into management and was issued with a suit, I was taxed on it as a benefit in kind - no logos, see?

Andrew T said...

Piss off, London Girl, I've been paying other people's pensions during my working life. And if people without children are not providing payers they are also not providing future pensioners, So it works out.

In the meantime work is work and a creche is a creche and let's not confuse the two. I adore children but the office is not the place for rugrats.