Saturday, November 15, 2008

30 years on

This week I witnessed a colleagues 30th work anniversary (right term?). This is quite an accomplishment and from the multiple "can you beleive it" conversations going on around the office I gather it is extremely rare that someone completes such a long stint with one employer.

There was of course the standard issue cake, speech and handing over of a nice watch, and it was quite nice to see how proud the man was of being, as the MD put it, "woven into the fabric of our company".

My favorite part of the proceedings was the employee's recount of what working in the pharmaceutical industry was like all those decades ago.

I suppose for people of my generation it can be easy to forget that until relatively recently there was no internet, there were no computers, no emails, no excel spreadsheets... (that last one could be a good thing).

I can imagine that working without these things must have been an entirely different ball game, a very papery ball game. In the days when email was a few decades away, and computer based documents were unthinkable, paper must have been king and thats something I just cant imagine.

All this thinking about how weird and tough it must have been back then, made me appreciate (in an odd way) the current bains of my daily life, things like Microsoft Excel, email, Powerpoint, because I know that having to perform these functions in an analouge way would be an insane operation. By using excel spreadsheets I have the power to perform various statistcal analyses that would be totally impracticle to try on paper (I have horrible thoughts of sitting infront of graph paper with a pencil and ruler). By using a simple database program managers can check sales of every pharmaceutical product, in every County, by using video conferencing an employee in Ireland can talk with an employee in America in real time...

While all this may seem boring to the average person I do find the changes that have occured between Mr.30ths first day and today to be fairly amazing.

30 years... It's a long way off, what will things be like then?


Manuel said...

granted the physical carrying out of work was more difficult, would the flip side be that (due to less efficient means of communication, calculation etc...) there was less work to do week by week?? food for thought

Barra said...

manuel has got a point, lets think about food for a minute.

ed said...

Well I guess you are right in that there was a lesser quantity of work in terms of variety and diversity of what had to be done, but I dont think that the workload in terms of working hours would have been any less. I suppose that the amount of work that goes on in any week is kind of restricted by the amount of human working hours are avaiable in any given week.

I dont think that the physiscal carrying out of the work was more difficult.. I would say that it would have been literally impossible.. I cant really imagine myself sitting at a desk with some graphing paper and a ruler... viva la excel

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