A few days ago, we had a snow storm come through the Washington DC area. Just a few hours before it hit, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced Federal Employees should depart 2 HOURS earlier than their normal departure time from work. Unfortunately, if you were anyone in the Washington DC metro area and you left 2 hours earlier, you were screwed! I heard of people being stuck in traffic for up to 12 hours, trying to get home. It was a combination of people not using their own brains and OPM not knowing how to react to the weather. There were a lot of people angry at OPM for making the late call and underestimating the volume of people leaving at the same time (due to the storm). One issue is the Federal Government has been really slow to adopt telework. When there was a threat of pandemic flu, they appeared to be paralyzed with fear, at the thought of people actually working from home. Many of us (contractors) tried to explain we would actually get more work done, if we had the opportunity to telework. If more people were teleworking, fewer would be out there messing up traffic. Last year, when the Federal Government shut down for 4 days due to snow, many of us sat at home and did nothing. It wasn't by choice, mind you. We were not authorized to do any work outside the office.
Part of my frustration rests with the fact that in the corporate world, teleworking or having distributed teams is not uncommon. It's not perfect but I would say it works. We've figured it out, leveraging a combination of communication tools and approaches.
The other main issue is the lack of practical wisdom or the desire to just take care of people supporting the Federal Government. I've previously quoted the definition of Practical Wisdom as
Have the moral will to make right by people. Have the moral skill to figure out what doing right means.
As a contractor, for the last 2 days, I've been in the office. If I was not, I won't be paid. For the last 2 days, this notice has gone out.
With forecast conditions for [date] highly variable and may include ice, sleet, and freezing rain, concern for safety is paramount. To protect the safety of Federal workers and our community, maintain continuity of operations and assist employees in planning accordingly, OPM has announced for [date], the option for unscheduled leave/telework.
Well, the freezing rain did not come. Yes, the parking lots yesterday morning were icy. But, the roads were fine yesterday and they were fine today. If fact, the forecasted high temperature for today is 54 degrees!
Because OPM announced all Federal workers could either take leave or telework, most did.
Let's see how much work gets done today.
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