Telework ready: The dark side

Monday - 3/11/2013, 2:00am EDT

Teleworking is here to stay, and that's great. Right?

Maybe for some, but ...

After decades of political and bureaucratic foot-dragging and prodding (sometimes at the same time) a record number of federal workers are working from home. Or from remote telework centers. In any case, they aren't in the office.

Some telework most or all of the time. Others have designated days when they work from home. In any event, most are designated as "telework- ready" and, for some, that's the problem.

Backers of teleworking say it is a win-win situation. Workers are happier. Daycare bills can be reduced or eliminated. Nightmare commutes are eliminated or reduced. Absenteeism and tardiness are reduced. The air is clearer, the sun shines brighter. It's all good. Except sometimes ...

Teleworking got a real test last Wednesday in the Washington- Baltimore area. Blizzard conditions in the Midwest were moving toward us. Local radio and TV went nuts all day Tuesday and into the evening. D.C. was supposed to get eight-plus inches. Higher elevations to the west were looking at 17-plus inches. A March Madness Blizzard was upon us. Or so we were led to believe.

Locals replenished their survival kits, which in the Mid- Atlantic region are built around white bread, white milk and toilet paper. Schools closed. Banks closed. It was supposed to be fairly bad by the a.m. rush hour and every man/woman for themselves by rush hour. The government closed. Those of us who had to go to work had an easy commute in, although we dreaded the return home.

Then nothing happened. It snowed a little where I live (just inside the Beltway) and there was only a thin coating here at the office in Northwest D.C. Then it stopped. Nada. Or almost nothing. The streets and sideways were clear. Folks to the west and south got hammered. But in most of the metro area, the Mega-March-Monster was a dud.

Bottom line: Most feds got the day off, and instead of hunkering down with their survival kits they enjoyed a pleasant paid vacation while contemplating future furloughs.

But for feds designated telework-ready, it was just another day at the office (albeit their home office) because while others rested, they were expected to slave away over a hot computer for eight hours. Not fair, some said. For instance:

  • "...I was asked to telework on yesterday. Yesterday was NOT my telework day. However, I was told that because I was "telework-ready" I had to work. Is this true? And if so, do I get time-in-a-half because that is almost like working on a holiday? Sorry for the short-fuse but the sooner you can respond, the better. TeleworkReady
  • Definitive (for Washington) answer: Yes, and no! Yes they probably have the right to change your telework days in an emergency if you are designated as telework ready. Check this out.
  • " I stayed home Wednesday like most of my fellow federal government workers. The difference is that I am apparently considered "telework- ready." I took that to mean that I was ready, willing and able to telework on my designated day. But my agency reads it differently. It means I work when they say I work, even if it is not my telework day. Have you heard from others about this or am I just making it a mountain out of a very small mole-hill?"
  • Good question. So what did you do last Wednesday? (Remember this is a family station). Got comments, suggestions, whatever? Let us know. And remember your boss will probably be reading the comments too, so let 'em rip.


    NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

    Compiled by Jack Moore

    Natural blue raspberries (also known as whitebark raspberries) appear more maroon than blue. The more familiar neon-bright-blue coloring was created by ice-pop companies, such as Otter Pops and Fla-Vor-Ice, to distinguish the raspberry flavor from a slew of other red-tinted flavors, such as cherry, strawberry and watermelon.

    (Source: MentalFloss)


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