Charlotte Street Partners



New perspectives and unexpected visitors

Written by David Gaffney, partner
13 February 2020

On the last day of the Christmas holidays, I rearranged my desk at home to afford myself a better view of the world through my window than I had become accustomed to during 2020. Stepping outside, I then suspended a freshly filled bird feeder from a tree branch previously obscured, but now fully visible from my new vantage point.

The hustle and bustle of activity at that avian self-service restaurant has brightened the first few weeks of this year, with daylight hours an endless soap opera of bickering, posturing, and darting raids and retreats. The cast are the jobbing actors of British garden birdlife – finches, sparrows, tits, robins, blackbirds, and the occasional swaggering chancer jackdaw. Until this week, that is, when a cameo appearance from a more glamorous star distracted me from an otherwise routine Zoom meeting.

Gazing out of the window, my eye was caught by a vibrant splash of red against the vivid black-and-white markings of a shy and retiring great spotted woodpecker, often heard but seldom seen. After a few brief seconds of frenetic feeding, it fled and while every subsequent flutter of movement caused me to look out in anticipation, I have yet to be granted a repeat performance.

No matter. That fleeting glimpse was an unexpected delight, which reminded me that while we may long for the more expansive and exotic menu of places and experiences that we took for granted this time last year, there are moments of joy to be found in the simple routines of lockdown life. I hope you discover some this weekend.

  1. Help Gen Z(oom) and it will help you back

There are drawbacks and benefits to remote working: a four-step commute and general feeling of flexibility is largely negated by dwindling creativity and an overriding feeling of social exclusion. There is a whole cohort of new workers who know nothing different – they haven’t experienced the crippling unease of having accidentally guzzled a co-worker’s coffee pods, or the shame of having had two beers too many at the company away day. 
Joking aside, our isolation is having dramatic and distressing impacts on our youngest colleagues, with 50% of millennials having left a job for mental health reasons and a shocking 75% of Gen Z’ers reporting the same. Here, Elizabeth Uviebinene argues that young workers can only thrive in an organisation if leaders make a commitment to prioritise mental health.

Read in FT.

2. Dreams of a pandemic

In Invisible Monsters and Tomato Soup, three filmmakers created a visual amalgamation of people’s dreams during the pandemic. They found that while everyone’s Covid-19 dreamscape is different, a common thread runs through their dreams: “invisible monsters”, or stand-ins that crop up as proxies for the virus in anxiety dreams. And while listening to a dream “can be exhausting”, according to the project’s creators, watching one might be a more interesting experience.

View in The New Yorker.

3. The country that has no vaccine to argue over

Most western European governments have already vaccinated frontline workers and are moving into the second phase of their rollout. In contrast, Moldova, Europe’s poorest country, has not been able to deliver a single jab yet because it can’t afford to buy the vaccine. This article provides a sobering reminder that lingering damages from the pandemic will likely include accelerated inequalities between the rich and the poor, and that it will apply to countries as well as individuals.

Read in Guardian.

4. What if we never reach herd immunity?

Before the prospect of a national vaccination exercise, achieving herd immunity naturally was prime minister Boris Johnson’s first policy response—and one that proved costly. A year on, the question arises: what if we never achieve herd immunity? Mercifully, the answer might not be as downbeat as the question itself.

Read in The Atlantic.

5. Papers, please

That governments have extended their executive power at the expense of citizens’ rights is far from a novelty at this point in the pandemic. Faced with the likelihood that the British government will implement immunity IDs to “track and trace” those who have taken the vaccine, many see it as a necessary means to a safer society. Others see it as the top of a slippery slope into a surveillance state. To be denied access to a pub or a shop is one thing, losing a job opportunity or being rejected from school is another matter entirely.

Read in The Spectator.

6. And finally… The secret hidden in our postcodes

Twitter threads are increasingly common, although I think this is the first to be included in a RotS post. Tweets that end in ‘1/18’ may suggest in-depth insight or swelling self-importance – and sometimes both – but hopefully this serves as an example of the former. With people spending so much time at home, it’s interesting to consider how the lowly postcode enables so much of what we’ve all come to take for granted. From sat-nav to next day deliveries, there is more to that short string of letters and numbers than first meets the eye.

Read on Twitter.