Thought Leadership

Some common sense is prevailing

By Colin Walls

In the UK, the European Union – and in particular our membership of it – is a hot topic just now. I am not going to get into the politics of that [I mostly try to avoid politics here!]. Over the years, there have been frequent stories – some true and others with only the flimsiest connection to reality – of crazy decisions and mad ideas coming out of the EU. I think that is inevitable if you take 28 disparate countries and try to reach consensus, because, although we are all “European” in our perspective, local tastes and sensitivities persist. I was delighted recently when I saw something really sensible being discussed …

To me, time is always an issue. There is never enough of it. We all have a finite amount of it. I try to make good use of mine. I fail and often waste time with nobody to blame but myself. I try to be respectful of other people’s time [which is why I am not a big fan of telephone calls] and do my best to be punctual and organized.

Because, in a way, time is an artificial construct, some aspects of it are worth pondering. Time zones, for example, seem [and probably are] a great idea, but they can be annoying. As I work for an international company, time zone issues arise frequently. The other day, for example, someone emailed an invitation to attend a meeting “at 1pm”. As they were in the US, I replied, asking which time zone they were referring to [as they have several to choose from]. It turned out that he did not know and needed to verify it with someone else. I would have thought that this would be second nature to anyone living in a country with multiple time zones.

My big bugbear is Daylight Savings. I have railed against it on a previous occasion and, some years on, still cannot see the point of wasting time messing with clocks twice a year. The great news is that it seems that the EU government [and lots of people in Finland] agree with me! Some common sense emerging from Brussels is very refreshing.

Of course, if Europe abandoned Daylight Savings, I expect the US would continue and I would need to get used to being 8 hours out from many of my colleagues for most of the year and 9 hours out in the Winter [at least, I think it is that way around!]. That is better than have a few weeks either end of the year when the time difference changes.

I can visualize a worst case scenario: the EU goes ahead with this plan, but the UK has left the EU and our crazy government think that there is something “British” about messing with the clocks …

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at