Gone was our friendly assistant who took special care of our bedclothes and made particular efforts to use the conditioner we wanted. Who washed the tea and butter stains out of our linen after careless breakfasts in bed.
In its place was someone we didn’t know, and a new set of machines. Instead of giving us a ticket, they took our mobile number.
When our washing was ready, the shop pinged us messages. We hated it, but it was so convenient, we didn’t feel we could go anywhere else.
The losses of change
It struck me that I’d gone through most of the losses associated with change, albeit in a minor form. fe3 associates change with five kinds of loss and uses a model developed by Dave Ulrich. These are: loss of colleagues, of control, of competence, of confidence and of core purpose.
We missed our previous assistant who we knew well – we even exchanged Christmas cards! In our old shop, we chose when we collected our clean washing. Now, we’re nagged by text message that it’s ready. I was initially a bit flummoxed by the messages and felt irritated when we had to give our mobile numbers. We weren’t sure that we’d get on with the new owners – could we believe they would do our washing as expertly?
Although we didn’t feel the loss of core purpose, we did wonder if our lovely local shops were going to be overtaken by technology and that the endearing Heath Robinson shops around us would disappear.
But a year on, we now appreciate the swift service and friendly assistants. Our washing is clean and well pressed and the new assistants have learned our preferences for fabric conditioner. The shop sparkles with new chrome machines, and is light and welcoming.
Our change of launderette is a tiny example of how painful change can be, even when the end result is better. Imagine what people go through when their roles are changed, new technology is introduced or redundancy programmes are started?