Tuesday, April 05, 2005

ADSR Emailgram

From Anonymous:

This is a different take on the possible reinstatement of the Alternate Work Schedule. This is an extract from a communication from Terry Wallace the AD of Strategic Research.

ADSR Emailgram
April 4, 2005

A recent survey of issues at LANL identified communication as the source of most frustration among staff. There is a feeling that staff is not part of the process in making critical decisions; further, the decision process is hardly transparent, and policies and procedures are passed down without explanation. My experience as a division leader and now my very short tenure as an AD seem to echo this complaint. However, it is also true that LANL is an incredibly complex place with a plethora of stakeholders, including the workforce, LASO, NNSA, other federal and state regulators, and the local community. This complexity often results in awkward messages coming out of the "administration," and rumor rules the day. An example of this is the recent announcements of LANL returning to some sort of an Alternative Work Week (AWW). The vast majority of the LANL workforce would like a flexible workweek, especially after experiencing the 9/80s in the last decade. Unfortunately, the LANL implementation of the 9/80 is very ineffective (many more people were on schedule B, people regularly changed schedules and management did not evaluate impacts, and there was a small, but significant population of workers that took advantage of lax oversight and abused the system). Most senior management recognized that it was very important to introduce a flexible work week, and a very significant amount of work was done to bench mark how other Labs implemented non 8-to-5 schedules. This work resulted in a detailed proposal for AWW that was approved by the Executive Board 2 weeks ago. However, before the AWW could be implemented it required approval from the University of California, and discussion with the local community for input on possible impacts. Both the approval and consultation are under way, but have not been completed. The basic proposal was presented to the Laboratory Information Meeting (LIM) last Tuesday, and almost immediately it was broadcast as a fait accompli. This caused problems in that (1) the expectation is that AWW will begin immediately, and (2) why wasn't senior management communicating again! I have every expectation there will be a flexible work schedule soon - but I don't know if it will be exactly as the EB approved (after mollifying community and UC concerns), and it will likely take 6 weeks or more to implement. It will also require significant commitment from management to oversee the program and assure that the mission of the lab is executed in an efficient and productive manner. In short, this is an example of the difficulty in implementing change at LANL, and effectively communicating that change

The 9/80 schedule was suspended on 30 Aug 2004 via a notification from Nanos on 28 Jul 2004 (a month and two days from notification to suspension). The reason given by Nanos was "to maintain accountability, ensure that all hands are focused on working safely, securely, and in compliance with all
applicable rules and regulations, and demonstrate our determination to operate efficiently."

I am just a worker bee. I did not find myself in any way any more accountable, safe, secure, compliant, or efficient due to the elimination of 9/80.

The loss of the 9/80 schedule seemed to me to be an unjustified punishment on the 11,985 (or however many observe it) Lab personnel not involved in the recent security and safety incidents.

The loss of the 9/80 impacted me by increasing my stress level. The every-other-three day weekend provided a much-needed time to decompress and live a more normal life.

It impacted me by increasing the number of days and the amount of time spent in vehicular traffic. In addition, by forcing everyone at LANL to conform to an 8 to 5 schedule, the rush-hour traffic was greatly magnified. Thus the accident risk also increased.

It impacted me by forcing use of sick or vacation time for routine appointments that can’t be scheduled on weekends, such as medical appointments, car maintenance, etc.

I fully understand that the 9/80 schedule was a benefit, not a guarantee. However, all in all, removing this benefit strikes me as a classic example of how negative reinforcement de-motivates people.

It now appears that a new Alternative Work Week scheme was approved ~ 21 Mar 2005. I'm hearing that it may be implemented in late May or June. Why should it take double or triple the suspension time to put a replacement system into place?
Well, there was indeed an accountability problem. Too many supervisors were not enforcing the work hours. Some individuals counted time riding the bus as work time because they were "thinking of work."
There is not a 100% correlation between "hours present" and "hours worked". One can be present but not working, and vice versa.
Oh, please.

We know that we can not 'bill' for hours that we are not at work. If you really want to work from home then you need to go throught he formality of having the arrangement formalized.

It has been a matter of personal honor in many groups that I wrok with whether you worked your full hours or not every week. And I think that is where we have had problems. Too many of us have learned that team and group leaders don't want to be the 'bad guy' and call you in to deal with attendance problems. Management that does not have the stomach to deal with small problems can not deal legitimately with large ones.

Individually, we need to have personal honor and do what WE said we would do regardless of the crap that management does or whether 'they' ever live up to what we think they said they would do.

For me, this means my 'work clock' begins when I get to my building, just as if I had to punch a time clock. This goes towards the comment of 'hours present' vs. 'hours working' as well. If I am on campus and away from my family then I had better be doing something worthwhile.
These are the "wave of the future" with LockMart in charge. Get used to it. There is no room for adults in the New LANL.
It is encouraging that at least some of the LANL employees recognize the problems with the 9/80 work schedule. All you had to do was to check the main parking lot at 8AM and again at 4:30pm and it was obvious. I suggest that it is not enough for LANL individuals to put in their time; they need to make sure that their co-workers are putting in theirs. Those who cheat the system will cause a problem for everyone. BTW, its called "time fraud" to work less than your scheduled hours. Perhaps a few of the "gold bricks" need to be terminated?
Management needs to get on this too. A friend at LANL relates that his work hours, per the Group Office, were 8-5. Then they went to 9/80 and the Group Office said the new hours were 8-5. I mean, come on now.
I am a retiree, and our problem employees managed to work 6 hours of an 8 hour day; with no management interest in this problem. In fact the Group Leaders were part of the problem. On a nice day they would go flying...
The idea of putting in the time one is paid for seems a bit hard for LANL folks to grasp... This means that everyone, not just the dedicated ones, puts in the hours. I hope the "new" 9/80 has some checks to ensure that this happens. There was far too much abuse of the 9/80.
Perhaps Lockheed will have a better handle on this?
The other bidders must be salivating. All this talk about putting in the work time you have documented. Where on earth but LANL would this even be discussed. Every other place I have been, you get fired for cheating the system. And BTW it was rampant here on 9/80s.

That was the first thing I was told when I got here. I was told how 9/80s were supposed to work and how it really was implemented. About half of the people that were supposed to be here on either Friday were here. Many in actuality worked a 8 9s per pay period schedule. All the teeth gnashing in the world won’t change that reality.
I too felt punished by the loss of 9/80, especially since I was among those working terrible amounts of overtime to come into compliance with the "new and improved" way of doing business. There were plenty of time abusers in the organizations I worked for during the 9/80 schedule. If this is really going to work managers MUST confront the abusers, an unpleasant task. We all know how many LANL managers deal with unpleasantness, ignore it and make the "good guys" suffer. I don't think the removal of 9/80 made anyone anymore efficient or safe, it just meant we were all together in this mess everyday, all day. One interesting side effect is that my current group leader is now literally having fits over the amount of sick and vacation use in our group.
Too bad for your GL.
Ok, so the EB voted to reestablish the alternative work schedule. What type of "new and improved" schedules are they proposing?
Lest the non-LANL people reading this blog get the wrong ideas from the posts above, let me make a few points:

-o- It is indeed possible to do work from home, especially for computational/theoretical types.

-o- There are many people here that work very long hours, routinely, year after year. People enjoy and take pride in their work.

-o- When the 9/80 was in effect, many people in my area came in on their off day.

-o- For people that were already working long hours, having the 9/80 schedule was a way of giving them credit for work that they were already doing.

-o- It was difficult to shut the lab down last summer because people wanted to keep working. Many tried to redirect their energies into safety & security analyses, but there is only so much scrutiny that an office job and a computer will bear. (That's my area...)

Yes, there are some shirkers who don't do their share, like there are a few safety/security problem people. But the majority of the people at LANL are industrious, intelligent, safety- and security-conscious people who want to do their jobs as best they can.

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