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Living on the laptop

Bill Storie, CEO of the Olderhood Group

How long have you been using a laptop? Most of your business life probably. But haven’t you just been using it as a tool in your working life?These days even though many of us have desktops, connected to printers and modems et cetera, we increasingly take our laptop wherever we go. In other words, we carry our life with us when we move, be that to work/to home, in the car, to the school play, to see grandma, or even to the ball game (remember those days?). When we left the living room to go to bed, chances are we took our laptop with us. If we’re lucky we didn’t take into the shower.But even though we did all of the above and felt bare without our laptop and mobile phone, we still knew that we had a life beyond the laptop. But then Covid-19 arrived and our life changed. Lifestyles that we never imagined could ever exist, far less be real, suddenly became the norm. We can’t shake hands with people , simply bump elbows. Wash our hands. Wear a bandana around the mouth (Billy the Kid comes into mind). Body swerve around people in the street. Avoid bumping trolleys at the supermarket. Don’t use cash, use cards. Oh yes, the times they are a changing.But what became of the laptop?You don’t carry it to the office at the moment: you don’t go to the office. You don’t go to Grandma’s house. You still carry it around the house but it’s getting heavy and unnecessary. Can’t carry it outside for a change of scenery, the glare is too strong. But before you start thinking that the laptop is becoming redundant, think again.Not only has it become your work-away-from-work machine, it has become your life-support machine.It is still useful for reading reports, working spreadsheets, writing documents and checking bank balances, but it has now become your eyes to the world. In fact, it may also be your eyes to your colleagues at work through Zoom calls and e-mails, sometimes with attachments (including silly YouTube videos). Conference gatherings in the office that consisted solely of coffee mugs and cell phones, now, at home remotely, consist of pets and PJs.But these days, due to lockdown and working at home, the laptop is giving us much more than a handy tool to get our work done. It is now giving us the ability to watch press conferences, health updates, television anchors who ask the same questions four times every hour, stock market bubbles and bursts, traffic to and bodies on beaches, empty airports, cruise ships all at sea (oops, that should read “all cruise ships at sea”, no passengers), deserted streets, the canals of Venice becoming colourful again, urban cowboys at state capital buildings, hairdressers not cutting hair any longer (get it, longer?), take-out restaurants becoming hand-out restaurants (not allowed inside dining, so food being handed out through the window), opera singers not getting applause, experts not deserving applause and on and on and on.Aren’t we lucky?In fact, wouldn’t it be more correct to say that our entire lives are revolving around the laptop?In other words, were it not for the laptop we would be stuck at home trying to find a book among our hundreds of books that we have accumulated over years and years, but yet can’t find one we fancy reading. Why did we gather all those books year over year, hoard them, dust them (occasionally), walk past them all the time, but yet, can’t find one single book to actually sit down and read? Of course, even if we did find that blockbuster how long would we sit and read it? Not long. Our attention span does not extend to War and Peace anymore.Instead we click and flick from one website to another to another to another. We have several open at the same time. We sometimes forget we were watching something, then discover it still open two days later. We forgot, but we don’t care. We have so many other places to visit, gotta run. We may even be tempted to watch a Netflix movie from our “new normal” workstation (can’t do that in the real office). Moreover, there are so many software applications these days which do magical things if we can work out how to use them. They can be super-useful to make our life simpler and more efficient. So, maybe the days of Star Trek where “beaming up” was an everyday event, are not too far away. Instead of going to the office every day, maybe we can continue to work at home most of the time but beam ourselves into the office when we need to attend a meeting. Then when the meeting is over, we just beam back to the Starship Enterprise. Cool huh?So, there you are. Our new Life at the Top.Well ok, the Lap-Top.• Bill Storie is chief executive of The Olderhood Group Ltd, Bermuda and is a CA (Scotland). He is also producer and host of the Olderhood Radio podcasts, which can be found on The Royal Gazette website. For more information, visit www.olderhoodgroup.com