An interesting week at work: not only was I offered the change to escape from the tyrannical tedium of my current department (albeit probably only for a slightly different flavour of tyrannical tedium), and they announced that the company is going to move to Docklands.
The reaction of most people to this announcement was pretty much as you would expect, even though the plan isn't to go there until 2001. Indeed, in some circles it's seen as a cunning ploy to get rid of people without having to pay them any redundancy money: the new building has enough room for 8,000 people, and we suspect the current number employed is a couple of thou more than that. I'm not sure whether I would want to go or not, it'd probably wouldn't add that much more on to my journey (caveat: assuming they actually FINISH the Jubilee Line extension by then), but I will have cashed in my share options by then, currently a large pair of golden handcuffs tying me to them.
There were a couple of things in the announcment that amused me. There will apparently be "underground parking for over 300 cars" -- which may sound a lot, until I refer you to the number of people who'll be there, mentioned above. It works out as one space for about every 27 employees, excluding any for clients. This may be taking car-sharing to unheard-of levels. The other sentence to provoke a snigger was that this will apparently "provide real benefits to customers, shareholders and staff". The first two I can ALMOST see, but if the tone in the office is anything to go by, the only staff who will feel any "real benefits" are the three who live in the area anyway.
Previously, I talked about the bizarre culture of technology in the company, whereby we get hurled onto the bleeding edge, just as we are finally coming to terms with existing tech, and feeling comfortable. A similar kind of thing takes place with office locations: in ten years, I have worked in three different building, and am now back in the same one in which I started. And that's ignoring moves within a building, between floors, and re-arrangements of desks which seem to occur on a weekly level. And, of course, none of it makes the slightest difference. It's almost as if the company compensates for having made a touch short of five billion last year, by engaging in ostentatious and conspicious consumption.
This is somewhat worrying, as history is littered with the wreckage of civilizations which did much the same thing -- thousand-year reichs and all that. Egyptian pyramids, Aztec temples, Kremlins: even Canary Wharf itself, which was something of a legacy of the Thatcher years. Maybe some future generation will stand at the foot of an incomplete 41-storey office block in Docklands, shake their heads, and mutter something about follies.