Monday, March 19, 2018

Teleworking and USDA

USDA made the paper this morning for cutting back on the hours employees can telework (here's GovExec's piece).

Teleworking developed after my time at FSA.  Obviously employees like it and environmentalists do as well.  Without any experience of it, I'm left with just opinions with no basis for them. 

But, as a manager, I would have had problems with it, just as I had problems with flextime.  Back when I was a young employee, we worked 8 to 4:30.  That meant first thing in the morning we might gather at the coffee pot to start.  It meant you always knew who was in and who was on leave.  It meant you could  easily schedule meetings (likely we spent more time in unproductive meetings than was good for us--I remember Roy "T"'s acid comments on the division director's staff meetings in the late 70's). 

The work of the unit I managed wasn't easily quantifiable--a manager could give work assignments knowing how much time it should take.

On the other hand, I often had employees in Kansas City working with the IT people on requirements and testing.  I had no problem trusting my employees with working a thousand miles away from the office, so why would I have problems with them working 20-30 miles from the office?  Two considerations:

  1. in Kansas City they were working face to face with their counterparts, not alone.  That meant I could get a bit of feedback from my opposite number manager in KC.
  2. the bottom line issue is trust  and it's the rare group of 6-10 people where all are equally trustworthy IMHO. So you either bite the bullet and trust all equally, or you recognize differences among the employees, meaning you don't treat them equally.
All in all, I'm glad I'm no longer a manager who has to make such decisions. 

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