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Design is the enemy of work (and stress)

Design is the enemy of work (and stress)

I’ve just been through the arduous process of remortgaging. For various reasons, my remortgage was more complicated than most, which meant more interactions with the lender’s solicitors than might otherwise be required.

It was painful.

Just writing about this now I can feel my tension-levels rising. By the end of the process I started to get irritated as soon as a new form dropped through the door or another piece of correspondence pinged into my inbox.

Why?

I hate form-filling at the best of times. Were I wealthy, my biggest luxury would be to never touch another piece of administration. But I can just about cope if the forms, and the rules behind them, are well designed.

These were not.

Every instruction and interaction was confusing, non-specific and poorly designed. It was clear that the rules that they were trying to satisfy through this appalling bureaucracy were also somewhat archaic and arcane.

There was just no need.

Even accounting for the ageing laws behind the process, good design could have contracted the process by three quarters and cut the number of interactions by about 90% (in my very rough estimation).

But what would this do?

This would cut down the amount of work involved for the firm of solicitors conducting the process. As I mentioned in a previous piece, some organisations like friction. It’s where they make their money. Law firms are one of them. Friction equals time, and time is what they bill for.

Ultimately though, this sort of white-collar busywork is unsustainable. Friction starts fires — in other words, friction is always an opening for disruption. Eventually someone of sufficient scale will do this so much better that everyone else will have to follow.

I don’t intend to be remortgaging again any time soon. But for the next person, I really hope that day comes soon.

 

Tom Cheesewright