It is now about a month since the elections, when I re-joined Crawley council. I left the council (involuntarily) about ten years ago and it has been a little strange being back in the town hall for two main reasons:
- All the things that have changed
- All the things that haven’t
Both are lists too long to even attempt to write out in full, but it is not just like stepping back into my own past; in some ways it is like stepping back into the past generally. Partly that is because of my own experience in changing work environments, and subconcsiously forgetting that not everywhere is like my workplace. Also forgetting that my own workplace only went through a massive change about five years ago and conveniently forgetting that the things I find so quaint and old-fashioned in the council were still around in my company quite recently.
For example, people in the town hall still have offices, which are crammed with shelves and cupboards full of paper. I have got used to a place with over 2000 employees where not a single person has their own office even if they are a managing director or HR director, and we routinely scan documents and put them on a server rather than in a filing cabinet.
And yet at the same time the council are doing things that we still only aspire to at work – like delivering payslips by PDF instead of expensive secure printing.
It is not too much of a culture shock though. Many of the staff are still the same ones who were there before, as are many of the councillors of course, so it feels halfway between starting at a new school and going to a reunion of your old school.
So far the biggest disappointment has been the discovery that the council computers only have Internet Explorer on them and no option to use Chrome or Firefox, although the disconcertingly large number of Tories in the chamber runs it a close second.
I don’t intend to start writing loads about politics or the council here, and will probably revert to writing about prog rock, comedy and the usual stuff soon enough, but this has been too large a change to my routine to go unmentioned.