The train takes some IT strain

Many businessmen and women think of their travel times as waste of time. They murmur and mumble as their busses and trains announce delays. Some, on the other hand, take advantage of the ‘dead’ travel time and space to prepare for the challenges ahead. Particularly, those traveling on a train between cities have plenty of space and time to ‘preempt’ work on the go. Our friendly writer reflects on how much he accomplished during a short train journey before a business meeting on a Monday, of all days…

Monday morning. My new novel has its bookmark replaced only a few pages in, as a tuneless reminder from my work mobile drags me back to reality, an increasingly common start to the working day. The reminder is for a meeting to be hosted at 10:30 am. No problem. The PowerPoint presentation is done, and it has been practiced and polished over the weekend. A virtuous glow tries to seep out through a relaxed smile. None of these other 9-to-5’ers around me could be as well-prepared for the coming day as I am.

Wait a moment. Wasn’t there something left to do over the weekend? A rash promise of handouts surfaces in the memory. One of the graphs will only be complete with the addition of Q2 figures that only would be available this morning, and the concluding section of text wasn’t quite finished. I could polish that now, check that it contains enough of the latest buzzwords and departmental clichés to look authoritative, and revise enough, sotto voce, to improve my delivery and prepare myself for questions.

Laptop open and 3G dongle into the USB slot for business emails. Bottle of water at 9 o’clock but a little forward on the table on the train so that any accidental spillage is more likely to be on the passenger opposite than on my keyboard. My personal smartphone is also buzzing, with reminders for upcoming birthdays and dentist appointments.

Another reminder chirps on my work mobile and reminds me to prepare for the early start in the City tomorrow. Fire off an email pronto while I am at it, to building security to book me a car space for the business continuity test on Saturday.

I glance about me, now that everything is humming; all my technology is serving its master. Am I the only one getting ahead of the game? Far from it. Two seats across and one row up, replies to suppliers are being hammered out. Over there, a spreadsheet being updated with fierce attention, its owner blind to the scenery unfolding through the frame of the window, left for those less modern and less motivated to enjoy. Station stops and even the view from the viaduct are disregarded as the numbers fly into the cells. The cursor speeds left and right, up and down, reordering columns, and adding supplementary rows.

At last I reach my desk and give my phone a quick glance to see if any crucial emails have arrived between train and office. Meeting room all booked? Check. More haste less speed. Now to put those Q2 figures in, pray the cyan level isn’t failing in the colour laser printers in my office and that not too much is queued in front of my handouts. Even with all of my mobile devices, I still am dependent on my trusty printer to provide me with my important documents. And last, but not least, bang an espresso on top of a latte. My coffee on level 8 used to start my day, but now it’s starting to feel like a pit stop after half a dozen laps.

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