The Corpus Callosum

More Telecommuting

Perhaps
a minor issue in terms of national priorities: the Senate is
considering a bill that would make nearly ll federal employees eligible
for telecommuting.

face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif"> href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/29/AR2007032902043.html">Senators
Push for More Telecommuting
By Stephen Barr
Washington Post
Friday, March 30, 2007; Page D04

face="Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif">Two senators think it’s
time for more federal employees to be telecommuting.

Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.) have introduced a bill
that would make nearly all government employees eligible to
telecommute. The bill covers employees in the executive, legislative
and judicial branches.

Under current practice, employees are assumed to be ineligible for
telecommuting unless their agencies select them for work-at-home
programs, the senators said in a statement.

Stevens and Landrieu said the bill would reduce fuel consumption, ease
traffic congestion and help government workers better balance career
and family obligations…


No, it only seems like a minor issue, because it is not getting any
attention from the media.  


In
fact, if we are to get over our addiction to foreign oil (not that it
matters much whether the oil is foreign), we need to take a look at
these things.  If we are to address serious problems with
fragmentation of families, inadequate provision of childcare, losing
talented people from the workforce, job loss due to family crises, then
we need to take a look at this.  

Furthermore, the energy and cost savings would not be restricted to the
reduction in automobile fuel costs.  The costs of operating
the office, providing parking, hiring replacements for people who can’t
make it to the office temporarily, would all go down.

I suspect that some managers are accustomed to feeling a need to keep
an eye on the employees.  But with telecommuting, not only is
it possible to keep track of employees, it is possible to log their
productivity and availability in an automated fashion.  Plus,
people get paid to get the job done. In managers are unable to tell
whether or not the job is getting done, they need to re-evaluate their
performance measures.

With any luck, this measure will pass, the practices of the federal
government will have an influence on other employers, and this will
become standard practice.

If the feds do this right, they will be able to demonstrate that they
get lower costs and higher productivity.  That might convince
a few others to follow along.

Comments

  1. #1 chezjake
    March 31, 2007

    I generally agree with all you say. However, I also wonder to what extent this is a move to get the federal government off the hook for providing or subsidizing child care, which could be a significant expense.

  2. #2 Michael Burton
    March 31, 2007

    I suspect it’s a move to cut not only child care costs, but building maintenance costs, real estate costs, highway costs, etc.

    Why build a Bridge to Nowhere if you can just string optical fibre to Nowhere?

    Uh oh. I’ve just de-motivated Sen. Stevens.

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