A recent story in FERMINEWS ("Feedback," Vol. 23, No. 4, February 25, 2000) includes a statement from management that alternative work weeks for the laboratory would not be implemented because management "thought such schedules would not be fair." However, a memo was circulated about the same time (dated February 23, 2000) from Associate Director for Administration Bruce Chrisman, codifying the policies governing telecommuting. Telecommuting suffers from the same problem as alternative work weeks, as I would guess that even fewer members of the laboratory could partake in a telecommuting program than an alternative work week due to the nature of their work. How does one reconcile these two seemingly opposing positions?
Thanks, Tom Ackenhusen
We believe that these two positions really aren't in opposition. We enacted a tele-commuting policy at the same time as a policy covering arrangements for certain employees, particularly scientists and other professionals, who routinely continue their work in the evening after their regularly scheduled day, or otherwise add to their work time. They are able to use a computer connection from their home, which is provided by the lab. The telecommuting policy also allows some people to avoid coming back to the lab on off-hour call-ins. Since telecommuting, call-in avoidance and additional work-hour situations are so similar, we decided to combine them into one policy package.
A successful telecommuting arrangement requires the specific skills and the sort of job description outlined above. We do not expect very many situations where both the natures of the work and skills come together to make telecommuting a widespread option. Since not all work can be performed with a computer and a telephone, many entire job categories are ruled out from consideration.
Most individual positions could be eligible for alternate work schedules, when considered by themselves. However, they must be judged in the context of required interactions with other workers or groups. Those necessary interactions would be the determining factors, and we might have to decide against a request for an alternate schedule based on the requirements in this larger context.
Sincerely, Bruce Chrisman Associate Director for Administration
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