FCW Challenge

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5. Workplace

Up for Debate: The federal workplace will never change. Telework? Fuggedaboudit!

If you take the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) directive to its logical conclusion, every government employee should be able to work from anywhere, including home, but also the road. But agency managers will never give up their need for command and control.

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Posted by David Rapp on Apr 30, 2010 at 12:12 PM


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Tue, Jun 1, 2010 Dave

If you currently pay me for 8 hours of govt work, you're actually using up 9 or more hours of my time, based on commute. Let me work at home and my commute drops to 1 minute at each end of my day. Between the hours and the personal savings in gas and vehicle wear and tear, I've effectively been given a raise! Those who fear I'll cheat the system are most likely those who cheat it now...

Tue, Jun 1, 2010

Seems to me that managing for results and face time are two completely different concepts. One way to sort this out and make it work (for everybody but the slackers - and most workplaces have a few) is to do two things: (1) Document which jobs cannot be done from an off-site location at this time, and the reasons why. (2) Translate the results we're managing for into descriptions of concrete deliverables, and rewrite employee performance plans to line up with them. Then, it's up to supervisors & managers to supervise & manage. One of the effects this will have is to smoke out the people who should not be managing. They can then be reassigned and replaced with people who can. It could be that telework is serving as a convenient stand-in for other organizational variables that are much more important.

Fri, May 28, 2010

I have seen so much abuse of time in my career with the federal govt that I don't see how it could be any worse with teleworking. I wrote a suggestion on this type of work over ten years ago only to have it knocked down by the first person who looked at it saying how would one know an employee worked 8 hrs a day? My response is why does it matter, the ones who work 8 hrs a day here will continue to work 8 at home; the ones who don't work 8 hrs a day here won't at home. I had a fellow co worker say well, my social life would be nothing if I worked at home! I agree with the widget person, do you want better and more widgets or do you want counting of hours with bad widgets? I know myself that I have worked on projects for training our trainees and it sure took me alot longer than 8 hrs a day and I got nothing for that except self satisfaction. I think some people will be good candidates and some won't. I think the ones who can do it should have the opportunity and those who don't want to or won't do the work, should continue to come to their desk. If everyone who could do telework would be allowed to do telework, it would save the federal budget many million possible billions of dollars. There would be alot of management slots that could be eliminated and there in becomes another problem for the people but not for saving money. I have had managment people tell me that those who want to telework aren't the ones who work in the office. I disagree with this philosophy as I would like to telework and I work my eight hrs and don't come in and read the paper or talk to my co workers for 6-7 hrs of each day. I know most of the people who I consider good govt workers do the same. So, why are we holding them back from being able to telework?

Thu, May 27, 2010 Chuck

At one time, 90% of everybody lived on the farm, because that's how many people it took 9 to feed 10. Then agricultural was gradually mechanized as the cities became industrialized and people moved from the farm to the factory and 90% lived near the factories in tennements. Then along came the model T and its competitors and the factory workers no longer had live within trolley or walking distance of the factory, and the suburbs were born. Now, a lot of the decendents of those factory workers are now white collar workers aka paper pushers, in the information age. Then information started going digital and traveling on wires, radio waves, fiber optics, etc. and information, the stuff of white collar work, is no longer necessarily tied to location. It has become technically feasible to live practically anywhere and do information-based work - even back on the farm. On the farm no one clocked in or out, (unless it was a hired hand) because there was no point. Only the results mattered. Punch clocks were the necessary bane of factory work. Output was more closely tied to repetive monotonous work. White collar work has been managed on the same model in spite of the fact it doesn't fit. Productivity is more qualitative in nature thus more difficult to measure. Two people may each produce different versions of the same budget in approximately the same time with the same level of detail, but of drastically different quality. Worse, one employee produced the only good, workable and well thought out budget but took twice as long as the other to produce a bad one and was judged half as productive and thus worth less as an employee. It happens. With telework, managers will have to manage for real productivity instead facory man-hours. Personally, I'm all for getting out of the'factory' and back to the 'farm' - just so long as I don't have to hoe weeds.

Thu, May 27, 2010 Newton White WDC

Folks, one size does NOT fit all. Comments such as "I think teleworking is a great idea if it fair for every government employee to participate." miss a fundamental truth about work - different jobs have different requirements. Managers, who are accountable for results, need the flexibility to manage for those results.

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