Wednesday, June 29, 2005


From the 6/29/2005 LANL NewsBulliten Letters section:

June 28, 2005


While many recent submissions deal with the 9/80 issue, I have not seen anyone mention telecommuting. With broadband computer access now widely available, trusted employees should be allowed to work from home one or more days a week, at times that are acceptable to them and their supervisor (up to group level management). The benefits to parking, gas consumption and traffic congestion are obvious.

--Victor Gavron

Bob Foley doesn't trust LANL employees.
Who gets to decide who a "trusted" employee is?
Telecommuting is an issue that has come and gone several times (at least) over the last 10 or 15 years. Ditto for the four-day workweek -- tried once as I recall, as an experiment in the early 90s (better than the 9/80 schedule, in my opinion). Both have failed to take root. Lack of trust is one reason, but the large diversity of the work at LANL and the large diversity of the types of employees make these schemes difficult to apply equally to all.
Yep, there will always be some group or groups of people who would not be allowed to telecommute, have a 4-day workweek, etc., and they will complain loudly of unfair treatment.
Telecommuting sounds find. BUT, there are very MANY job assignments at LANL that are not at all suitable for telecommuting. These jobs just cannot be done from home.

These include, but are not limimted to:
experimental work (e.g., Hyrdotests)
fabrication work (e.g., Main Shop)
Office Management (e.g., Group Office Administrator)
Property Management
Computer Hardware Support
Facility Management
Facility Operations (e.g., LANSCE) Payroll

There are also jobs that require very frequent interaction with others and for which productivity would really suffer if one or more members of the team were telecommuting. These include but are not limited to:
Personnel Administration (HR)

I suspect that when the list is complete, very VERY few job assignments will be found to suitable for telecommuting. Also, in the past, we dealt with LANL employees that other groups had permitted to work from home for various reasons, usually child care. I can state that it did not work out very well and the productivity was quite poor. Not that there was any suspicion that the individuals were not diligent, it's just that face-to-face communications are very important in an R&D environment.
With negative employees such as the previous responders, who needs bad management to drag us all down? If 5-10% are eligible one day a week, it still makes sense. Let the poor quality managers do the nay saying. Lets us be supportive!
Good managers can make this happen in spite of the institution.

CCS division has had an official work-at-home policy for several years, with memos in place allowing several staff members to work at home 1, or in some cases 2, days per week.

In my opinion it shows that the managers trust staff, and staff appreciate it greatly.

I don't know of any requests for work-at-home that have been denied, but I also don't know of any requests from anyone living in Los Alamos (most are from folks living in Santa Fe or Albuquerque).

I haven't heard of complaints that some are allowed to do this.
Could that be because they did not know about it until now?
01:13:31 PM,

Add to your list:
Anybody who must deal with classified matter as part of their routine job assignment.
From the comments of anonymous at 6/29/2005 01:13:31 PM and at 6/29/2005 07:55:49 PM, it really sounds like working at home is not an option for the majority of us.
anonymous 6/29/2005 07:24:16 PM said:

> Could that be because they did not know about it until now?

Is it possible not everyone in the division is aware of the work-at-home policy? Sure.

Do I think that's the reason no one is complaining about it? No.

Do I think some people will find something to complain about no matter what? Absolutely.
I once tried working from home (across the bridge). I requested a typewriter to take home (portable computers weighed 25 pounds then and didn't include a printer).

Our sub-group secretary was promptly called up and told in no uncertain terms that a non-exempt employee could not take her work home. She stood up to the questioner--Why did he think a woman couldn't be a Staff member?
A major argument in favor of telecommuting SHOULD be safety. Highway fatality (not to mention injury) statistics in New Mexico predict that between one and two LANL workers will be killed every year driving to and from work. You could look it up, and experience verifies the prediction. It's by far the most hazardous job-related activity that we do. What fraction of workers are eligible for telecommuting is a moot point. Is LANL serious about safety, actually saving lives, or simply about CYA paper-pushing? Echo answers hollowly..........
Many companies allow telecommuting and find that telecommuters are more productive than those who come in every day. On the other hand, even in those companies managers worry about whether the employees are ripping off the company.
As an exempt employee, I once worked at home on a LANL project on my own computer to meet a deadline. I did not request to be paid for the work because I was exempt. When the Chief of Staff found out I was told I could not work at home again. If I was going to put in extra work, I had to come in to work to do it. I never figured out why but I quit working at home even on weekends and evenings. I would probably have put in more hours had I been allowed to work at home, but with being forced to work in the office, I just did the job the fastest possible way.
More about previous post. Though I was not allowed to work at home, managers were allowed to. I think that was because they outranked the Chief of Staff.
Why would a Chief of Staff have the authority to tell an exempt (TSM I assume) to do anything? They are not line managers.

The only cases I have heard of where that has happened is when the line manager is too much of a weakling to tell the employee themself.
To Anonymous at 7/01/2005 12:56:06 PM: Exempt employees may work extra hours at work or at home (subject to the classification of the work) at thier own distretion. Of course, if you are getting Extended Work Week pay, then there are some limitatios. Your Chief of Staff is an arrogant idiot. Did you report this behavior?
Can I get a mass-spec at my house? How do I turn my spare room into an RCA?
Just because some jobs can't be done from home, does that mean no one should be allowed to work from home?

Of course not.
Once again, Google on "Theory X Management." That's the UC style, and it's not going to change. Either put up with it until UC leaves or leave yourself.
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