From Cubicle Slave to Mobile Slave

I kinda liked the irony in this, but at the same time realised it illustrates the sad fact that many of us are slaves to the office even when we’re not there. Reuters’ website reports that the UK’s Trades Union Congress has launched www.workyourproperhoursday.com “where workers can take a quiz to diagnose themselves as a “desk junkie”, “stay late sheep” or one of five other types of overworker.”

The idea, of course is to get people to work their proper hours and then go and have a life. While the Reuters photo on the left certainly captures the grimness of cubicle life, the accompanying “5 to 9” Cisco ad on the right suggests that the cubicle isn’t really the prison: it’s our computer, and the “secure collaborative networks” companies set up to get more out of their workers. The blurb at the bottom of the ad, by the way, says “Work anywhere, anytime with secure collaborative networks.”

Work

Giving Your Email Address Out By Phone

I don’t like working in the office. I’m there now, trying to do a column, and all I get is lots of people yelling on the phone, in their cubicles, in my cubicle. I can’t believe that once I used to write stories in an open-plan newsroom. I suppose it’s a skill worth working on, but when I’ve got a great set-up at home (or even in the hotel, where I’m esconced at the moment), why should I give that up?

Anyway, that’s not the point of this post. I overheard one colleague trying to converse with someone on a bad line (she should have used Skype!). In the end she tries to give or get an email address to continue the transaction. But that’s no good over a bad (land) line. The chance of getting the email address right is remote. By now she’s given up.

So why isn’t there a way of doing this? Shouldn’t it be possible to key in a message via a touchtone phone, a la SMS (3 times the ’4’ key for ‘i’, for example)? The phone translates it to letters and displays it on the screen? (Even easier, of course, would be to SMS the address, but we’re assuming both ends are using a landline for this example).

So, anyone want to set that up? All you need is an LCD display on the recipient’s phone, right? Or am I missing something? Why does this bit have to be so, like, 1990s?