Sunday 7 June 2020

Full economic cost

According to the official numbers from our Research Office the full economic cost of one hour of my time comes out at about 75 pounds. 75 pounds for every hour of research, 75 pounds for every hour of teaching, 75 pounds for every hour of debugging code, 75 pounds for every seminar visit, 75 pounds for every hour of target tracking, 75 pounds for every hour of shuffling around Excel sheets, and 75 pounds for every hour of filling out forms to claim back 75 pounds. I am not saying that this is what I am paid but it is the full cost of having me sit in my office including the heating, cleaning the halls, mowing the lawn outside, and keeping up the flower bed at the main entrance.

Obviously, this averaged and linear view does not tell the whole story, neither of the costs nor of productivity, but it is still a bit disturbing to think about all this cost involved. I am not quite sure what the moral of the story is but I guess it is that we should be a bit more careful regarding our colleagues' time and that institutions might be a bit more generous in terms of allocating funds.

I am in charge of organising the seminars here. Would all 26 full-time equivalents of academics show up to our seminar, this would be a bill of 2k pounds. Adding in all the PhD students and postdocs would move us well above 5k, almost three times the yearly seminar budget! As much as I believe in the importance of seminars, this is why I am not too pushy in making people come.

Another interesting factoid: If I had to pay myself with my own startup budget, then I could finance about 26 hours of my work time. I would be out of money on Thursday at 11am of the first week of the financial year!

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