Sunday, May 08, 2005

On the 9/80

From Anonymous:

On the 9/80:A prompt return to 9/80 would be an easy victory for Director Kuckuck and a signaled return to normalcy. However, UCOP -- read that Admiral "Sly" Bob Foley-- has vetoed a return to the 9/80 for the foreseeable future. You'll hear about this brain infarction next week.

Ok I am very glad Nanos is gone.
A great day for the good guys. However,
getting rid of the 9/80 was one of the
greatest things he ever did. I do not
know if I speak for any other people. Getting
rid of 9/80 saved so much time and problems
with paper work. It just seems to me that
in a lot of places Fri is often a rush
day when the last second stuff needs to be
done. Of course it would be good to get
everything done before Fri, however, for
whatever reasons it often comes down to
Fri. With the 9/80 you could never
get this stuff done on Fri. What was
even worse was that come Mon there
was always a big backlog. I cannot
tell you how many times I was angry on
a Fri because things could get done.

If the 9/80 is brought back it has to
be done in a more rational manner like
spreading around Mon, Fri, or other days.

It is time to really show the nation
how hard we work.
I am with the "No to the 9/80" group. You could never find any help in the support divisions on any given Friday when the 9/80 was in effect. When there is work to be done, how can so many people charging to overhead be doping off every Friday.
I'm also all for the 9/80, but I'd rather not see it turn back into what it was before. It was amazing that every Friday there was a noticeable more-than-50% of the workforce missing. That aside, I honestly have been enjoying the fact that I no longer have to worry that folks in HR, S, the library, etc... won't be around on Fridays. That was pretty annoying. I agree with the previous poster -- let's bring back 9/80, but let's not get back into old habits where the lab grinds to a screeching halt in terms of administrative work on Fridays.
While personally ambivalent about flex time, I conclude that UC is not serious about competing for the contract. If they're going to sandbag the new director, then I'm going to support Lockheed's efforts to win the contract.

You took the words right out of my mouth. I am becoming quite fed up with UC's half-assed, non-professional approach to running LANL, and indeed, to winning the new contract. LM will get my support as well.
As a retiree after 32 years with the Lab, who never experienced the 9/80, I find it amazing that this subject keeps coming up on this blog. Is there something inherently wrong with a 5 day week?
I can do w/o the 9/80 at this point. It had it's plusses, but it had some negatives as well.

It is a small issue compared to the survival of the lab with a recognizeable mission, to the issues of a defense contractor instead of a prestigous University, to the possible mangling of retirement benefits for some, etc.

I used my 9/80 Fridays off to:
A)Catch up on work.
B)Take care of errands w/o Vacation
C) Do program development for which there were no funds.

I miss all of that, but heck, I miss working in a sane place where you trust your management chain much, much more.
The 9/80 program was important especially for employees with young children or an elderly incapacitated parent and for folks who were engaged in degree programs. Personally, I found that the day off allowed me to get a lot of work accomplished in the office without having to worry about having to attend meetings. However, I agree that the new method that provides alternate days off other that Friday to better facilitate programmatic work is preferable. Also please note that Sandia and Livermore have 9/80 programs (I believe that is the case) and DOE/NNSA for sure has a 9/80 program.
As noted in some previous postings, the 9/80 schedule certainly hurt Los Alamos's businesses, by essentially killing Fridays. Lab people may not really care about the Los Alamos businesses, but if they fail because of things like 9/80, people can’t reasonably complain that Los Alamos doesn’t have enough retail. Can’t have it both ways at once.
There are many very productive alternative work schedules that could be implemented. If recruitment and retention are a big deal, why wouldn't we want to implement one?
Short answer: UC dosn't give a sh*t.
I don't buy the notion that the 9/80 delay is because "UC dosn't [sic] give a sh*t." Rather, it's because there's no clarity yet on a way of doing it that works. I know for a fact that several variations on it are being explored; we'll almost certainly have one of them fairly soon.

I have never really held against Nanos the fact that he stopped 9/80 for managers during the shutdown -- and I say that as a manager, although not a very important one. His argument that it was necessary to have the management phones and functions staffed as we struggled back up to normal operations [sic] was basically sound, as anyone who has tried to keep the Washington wolves at bay will confirm. (What was inexcusable was stopping it for the *non*-managers who didn't have to field those phone calls on an 8/40 basis.) While the urgency of having people available to field those calls has diminished, we still should find a way to keep the key functions staffed whenever they are needed; that's just sound business practice. I fully believe that can be accommodated within the framework of an alternative work schedule, but moving carefully to do it right doesn't strike me as irresponsible on UC's part -- quite the contrary. (If another 6 months go by and still no plan for an alternative schedule, I'll be a lot less conciliatory.)
During the time the 9/80 was in effect, I kept a record of how it impacted my work. Too many times the necessary support people, CCN, SUP, etc., were not at work on any Friday and had no backups. It lent credence to the remark, "70% of the staff is on schedule A, and 70% is on schedule B." The 9/80 is not the answer. Rather what LANL needs to support is truly a flexible schedule for as many of the staff as possible, including the support staff. However, my fear is that there will be a group who will be allowed to participate in flexible scheduling and others who because of their jobs must be at their desks 5/40. This is sure to cause more problems than the 9/80 will solve.
The 9/80 was not all bad. For those hired after the time that vacation was reduced to 12 days per year, the odd Friday off was very valuable. We have to be realistic in that if you work at LANL or live in Los Alamos, you will be taking a lot of vacation days to do things that LLNL, LBL, ANL, BNL, employees are able to do on their lunch hours. We need to make provision for that.

As far as less than 50% of the employees being present on Fridays, yes that makes sense. First, many were near use-it-or-lose-it on vacation so they took the opposite Friday off. Many, such as myself, took most of their vacation days on Fridays to have three-day weekends.

That said, LANL did NOT manage the 9/80 work schedule. Because of school and childcare matters, it was necessary to continue the 5/40 schedule for some. In our organization (not a support group) we made sure that the GL and DGL worked opposite schedules. Where there was a two-person rule we made sure that labs could function.

It is possible to have a 9/80 schedule and have organizations meet their requirements. It just takes a bit a planning and management. AND, people at all levels must acknowledge that flex-time and the 9/80 work schedule are a privelege, not a right!
I used many Fridays off for medical appointments in Santa Fe and Alb. The current health care provider (UHC) has made it impossible to find medical specialists in Los Alamos.
I think they should bring 9/80 back, but just have the entire lab take the same Friday off. DoD labs can handle that, so I don't see why we can't. We might even have enough energy savings to funnel a little back into research...
I was looking for the 9/72 option...
5/9/2005 09:02:51 PM --

I agree. There are two ways this would be the most effective method: First, there would be direct energy savings that could be a definite benefit to Laboratory programs, as you mentioned. Second, there would be indirect productivity benefits - if everyone has the same Friday off, there will be 9 productive work days in a two week period. The former schedule only gave you 8 productive days in a two week period because you could never schedule anything on a Friday. If we complicate it with the option of taking A or B Mondays or Fridays, we will only have 6 productive workdays in a two week period.

I think this would be very detrimental to productivity and the frustration of that would outway the benefits to morale. I too enjoyed having a "personal business day" every other week and would welcome a return to that, but it can be done more economically while preserving productivity.
Regarding the 5/10/2005 12:18:05 PM:

I certainly agree that having people regularly off on both Fridays and Mondays would not be very good. As the comment stated, that leaves 6 fully-staffed days per two-week period.

With the A and B schedules that we had under the original 9/80, we could be guaranteed of having "Meetingless Fridays." I appreciated that. We still had 8 fully-staffed days per two-week period. Yes, there were occasional problems dealing with support organizations, but that could be remedied if we "managed" the 9/80 schedules.

I think that there is still a need to permit people to work on a 5/40 schedule. Day care is a difficult enough problem on the 5/40 schedule.
It's gratifying to see that not everyone thinks taking away 9/80 was Nanos's biggest sin and getting 9/80 back will make everything right again. I couldn't be on 9/80 because of childcare (I wasn't going to put my kid in childcare for over 10 hours a day so I can have every other Friday off), but I think it was a great idea...until, of course, LANL implemented it. It was impossible to get anything done on all Fridays -- things invariably came up on Fridays, plus it surely seemed that my Group Leader was taking all the *other* Fridays off to use up her vacation time.

I've often found myself in the minority defending Nanos's necessary decision to stop our poor implementation of the flex-time. It would be much better if the Laboratory is fully staffed all the time. Some are going to be disappointed, but this is a business (in the broadest sense) and certain professionalism should be expected. Los Alamosans expect their leaders in all aspects of their lives to defer to them, but, to paraphrase Lincoln, you can't please all the people all the time. A good leader should have the moral authority and the guts to make a tough decision and get the grudging agreement of the employees. I hope the next guy can do this, not just for flex-time, but for all other unpopular decisions.

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