One size fits none – and some updated statistics

One size fits none

Catch-22: a dilemma or difficult circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions.

An update on some statistics

Since our first virtual course in March 2020, I've included this question in the online course evaluation form: "Do you prefer virtual or classroom training?"

I shared the statistics from this about a year ago. But it's time for an update.

  • In 2020, 62% of course attendees preferred virtual training to classroom training.
  • In 2021, 77% of course attendees preferred virtual training - a significant increase.
  • In 2022, 75% of course attendees prefer virtual training - a slight decrease.

I can't be sure, but I think the difference is due to the following:

  • In 2020 we were all still adjusting.
  • In 2021 we had settled into our remote routines.
  • In 2022 our remote routines were disrupted by load-shedding. Many of our course attendees have postponed or missed part of a course for this reason.

One size fits none

Now that we know how to work remotely, we can make an informed and personal choice about what is best for us. Some people love working remotely. Some people prefer to go to the office.

So what have most companies decided to do in the not-quite-post-Covid-but-good-enough era?

It seems many companies have split the difference. They've decided that employees must now work from the office 2 or 3 days a week. In negotiating terms, we call this a haggle. It's a common, but poor, negotiating technique. And in this case it doesn't work. It doesn't work for me if I want to work from home. It doesn't work for me if I don't want to work from home. So it doesn't really make anyone happy.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. We need an approach that is sized for the individual. But that needs an "equal but not the same" solution, which has its own challenges.

And it's all made worse by load-shedding and fuel prices.

Between a rock and a hard place

If you have the choice, you are still in a catch-22 situation:

  • If you stay at home, you have to deal with load-shedding. For many contractors, no work means no pay.
  • If you go to the office, your travel costs have doubled since pre-covid. Work and less pay.

What do you do? You can try working from the closest coffee shop that has power and internet. But it's noisy and the coffee is expensive. We made one of our offices available for ad-hoc rent. There may be an office block near you that does the same. (There's also the China zero-Covid strategy: you can live at work.)

What I'm not writing about

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write about power options for people working from home. I can't write about this, because I don't know enough. (Sorry, O.) When load-shedding started in 2007, we invested in a 65kVA diesel generator. Between that and over 30 solar panels, we keep the power on at Incus Data - for a price.

You've probably already done the research. The options are limited and expensive:

  • You can buy a small petrol generator for about R5,000. But it's noisy and you still have to buy petrol. (In June I did 5 runs in 7 days to buy a total of 250l of diesel.)
  • A battery backup is quiet, and it charges from normal power. But they get expensive fast. I'm not sure how long a R6,000 "portable power station" will power a laptop, cell phone and internet router.
  • Solar solutions are great, but expensive. The camping shops have some cool options for lights and fridges.

You have to do your own math. (I did a lot of calculations before we invested in solar.)

I wondered if we could generate power and work at the same time. I had an idea about big companies paying the many unemployed to walk or cycle to generate power. But, sadly, the math doesn't work.

What's the solution?

Load-shedding, internet infrastructure, transport cost - those are political problems. We can't solve them.

But are there better options that we can use? I'm eager to hear your views.

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