This special "Work from Home application form" from HR is an interesting insight into how HR think the university works and what constitutes effective management.

@hugh what do you all do while you're waiting for your forms to be approved?

@koosli keep working from home like we already were..?

@koosli or possibly try to work out how to "sign" and "tick the boxes" on this MS Word 2003 file.

@hugh I kind of love this stuff. My favourite thing in the public service was they used a numbered delegate system for approving forms ("Approved by Delegate 3 Y/N") but there was no record anywhere of what the numbers meant

@koosli I'm just totally intrigued by the implicit assumption in these questions that management consists of monitoring staff activity at all times, and it's impossible to communicate effectively without being physically in the same place.

@hugh @koosli this is so relevant to my interests (the Australian fascination with forms as a simulacrum of management)

@liamvhogan @hugh I love the ones that use fields that make them completely unusable, so you have to print them and fill them out by hand

@liamvhogan @hugh Another fave thing: when the only way to get them processed is find out the name of the person who processes it (prized information!) and email them every day. They invariably work in a regional office and only two days per week.

@koosli @hugh in a general sense ‘forms’ are an 18thC technology (replacing and adding to books maintained by specialist clerks) that I think are peculiarly sacred in our working culture—we use the most powerful computers and sophisticated software to fill out entries

@liamvhogan @hugh The record-keeping aspect of it is also interesting - in the modern public service they're always in the process of transitioning to an electronic system, but never quite there. Or they've transitioned but hard copies are still required.

And records departments are more and more removed from record-keeping - the responsibility to keep records is very individualised. And as a result, inconsistent or absent.

@koosli @hugh thinking of Scott, the artificial structure of the form makes the information real to an institution, which conversely makes the institution’s rules dominant on society

@liamvhogan @hugh a recently imploded fedi instance was turning to forms to try and get behavioural compliance. I think they just imploded.

@koosli @hugh exactly! And as any anarchist would also say, the compliance is always based on an implicit threat of violence or punishment—which is why people submit to Centrelink’s forms, the worst of all

@liamvhogan I love his stuff, so useful for understanding how all these things operate @koosli

@hugh @liamvhogan interested in your thoughts about 'have your say' (community engagement) webforms. I mean, clearly they're done to structure (control) the process and further reduce what little power is ceded in consultation processes

Those forms are evidence for a different form asking the department/Council how they complied with the legislative requirement to "consult". It's forms all the way down.

@koosli @hugh the people who design standards for consultation (in e.g. planning) are genuine in a desire that communities be consulted—but it's the nature of the process that power is top-down, so requirements to consult are on the State's terms, not the consultees

@koosli @hugh it's notable that the least effective means of protest and dissent are also the ones that mirror the formalism—when has a petition effectively challenged power? By contrast (thinking of my field) the heritage and anti-planning movements came into existence countering the *process itself*

@koosli @hugh it's an irony I work with every day that heritage, emerging from its Heroic Era of the 1970s as an anti-bureaucratic fury, is now a field of experts, lists, processes and forms

@liamvhogan @koosli @hugh The cucumber gets pickled more than the brine gets cucumbered.

@liamvhogan @hugh In state/fed gov, the whole process goes webform -> summary table (Word table, probably) -> two lines in a brief so someone might make a decision

@koosli @hugh forms and central lists replaced oaths and promises (verbal agreements) in early modernity as the sources of truth, we’re still working out how that shift affects how we relate to one another. Most particularly at work

@liamvhogan @hugh this week I've been writing safety processes for doing IRL stuff and it's completely dependent on acceptance of unseen danger and obedience

@liamvhogan @hugh @koosli That's really interesting! Physical evidence of the "Lucky Country" mediocrity of Australian management as it intersects with the cultural ultracop desire.

@daedalus @hugh @koosli no I think it’s a more fundamental aspect of modernity (which is not to say Australian ultracop culture isn’t real).

Think of every activity you’ve done where you’re required to sign an obviously legally unenforceable waiver (‘participants accept all risk, indemnify DangerousGoKarts Pty Ltd in perpetuity, and will not sue!’): it’s only the existence of the *form* that makes the risk *real*

@liamvhogan @hugh @koosli It makes the implicit explicit, the invisible visible. I wonder if there's an aspect of Ask Culture vs. Guess Culture in there as well?


Yes, though it's important to understand that nobody actually takes these forms seriously. In my experience at several different organisations, HR departments operate in their own special bubble with little noticeable effect on actual management practices.

@liamvhogan @koosli

@hugh @liamvhogan @koosli HR exists to minimise the risk to management posed by employees. That's all.

@hugh I found one of those forms (sent by my contracting recruitment agency) in my spam folder.

I'm pretending I haven't seen it.

I've worked from home off and on over the last 21 months. I rather think that horse has bolted.

@Andrea I assume this is just paperwork for the lawyers when someone trips on their power cable.

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