Summer is here at last, at least I think it is as I’ve been away for a week. Judging by the length of the grass when I got back the weather seems to have been OK. Ah summertime, when the living is easy. The hazy summer days make me hark back to when I was at primary school. We would be in our summer uniform of short sleeves and short trousers. With the sun streaming through the windows, the teacher would cheer us all up by suggesting we go out onto the field and have our lessons in the fresh air.
Do you remember how great it was to feel the relief from the stifling classroom, the feel of the grass behind your knees and the light breeze through your hair? Perhaps not, it may have been some time ago. Somehow lessons were more fun in the open air. We listened more attentively to the teacher and we took more on board.
It was like eating out of doors where everything tastes nicer or sitting under a shady tree and reading a book. Being outside enhances the experience.
So why is it that we find ourselves as grown-ups sitting in hot oppressive offices while the sun is beating down outside? We undo our ties and run our fingers around our collars in the hope that it will let off some steam. We open all the windows and put on all the fans yet still the air in the office gets thicker and thicker while we struggle to maintain concentration.
Why don’t we just pick up our things and go and work outside? It’s not as if we can’t work there. At County Hall the wireless connection reaches as far as the pond out front. We could sit on the benches while the fish are jumping and the bull rushes are high. It also reaches out to the woods at the back and we could sit and talk about the things we need to get done under the shade of the trees. It would probably work outside the museum as well.
Most meetings I attend involve people sitting round and talking. We discuss reports, plans and actions. We show each other things on paper or on screens. We engage in conversations. None of this requires walls. None of this requires a desk or a seat. None of this requires us to be indoors on a lovely sunny summer’s day.
Wouldn’t it be great to feel the relief from the stifling meeting room and enjoy the feel of the grass behind our knees and the light breeze through our hair? So what is stopping us? Is it the feeling that we are doing something wrong? Is it that someone may ask us what we are doing? Could it be that we will seem childish as if we’re not taking our work seriously?
It is certainly not that it can’t be done. So, pack up your papers if you are still into them, grab your laptop and head for the great outdoors. Take a blanket if you need to. You never know we might listen more attentively to each other and take more on board.
We should work more al fresco and less al desko.