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17 January 2019
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A sense of time

3 June 2013

In Australia, a former IT specialist is claiming to be Jesus Christ reborn.

Apparently, the son of God has clear memories of his crucifixion and sundry Biblical-era events. He remembers, for instance, bringing Lazarus (“a friend of mine”) back from the dead. Oh yes, and his wife’s name is Mary Magdalene, apparently.

Jesus – earth name Alan John Miller – runs a religious movement known as the Divine Truth. He also holds seminars. Seminars! That must beat the hanging, drawing and quartering he would surely have suffered had he chosen to come back to us just a few hundred years ago.

2,013 years is a long time, and it’s a story broke during a period in which I’ve had personal cause to consider just how ‘long’ time is. It’s made me calculate, for instance, that I’ve been on this planet for approximately one fortieth of the period between Jesus’s first death and today.

By time being ‘long’, I’m talking about the feeling that real and lasting change can take an age to occur while all around real life continues at its typically frenetic pace. Only when you pause to take stock do you realise just how much has elapsed. It’s incredible, for instance, to think that London 2012 was nearly a year ago.

In the workplace, there are plenty of theoretically seismic changes that are taking their own sweet time in arriving. When you look at the changing City of London skyline with its iconic new office blocks, it’s difficult to square all that new office space with the perceived wisdom that flexible and/or agile working could make white elephants of them all. If you consider that the government’s own estate has been cut by 15 per cent in the past couple of years, what on earth will be the effect when the private sector catches up?

Ah, but time is long – and ways of working can take an age to change, no matter how seemingly compelling any fresh new alternative may seem. Video conferencing has been with us for two decades, but even now that we can do it on our own smartphones, is it really the dramatic change in working practice it was always billed as? People also now work from home or in third spaces; has the impact on office space truly been as profound as that suggests? In truth, any impact will vary dramatically from organisation to organisation and workstyle and workstyle.

There’s a lot of compelling  rhetoric about agile working. But while there are many seemingly fundamental changes to how we live and work that are discussed at length, the short-term reality is often limited to relatively few colourful if high-profile examples. In truth, it can take a generation to change the habits of a generation.

Back to the present, and it’s time for us to visit the Royal College of Physicians to report on ThinkFM, the BIFM’s annual conference. If you’re going, congratulations – it’s going to be a great event. We’ll see you there.

Martin Read is managing editor for FM World