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Telework fiasco Fri, Mar 06, 2015
I'd like to record a story from work for the sake of posterity. 

My job offers the option of teleworking, i.e. working from home, 2-4 days per month.  If your role is suitable for teleworking and you can be trusted to work alone without supervision, you can sit around in your sweatpants on your couch while doing official work.  I made the cut.  It's a good gig. 

But there's one caveat:  If the workplace is closed due to weather, normal workers are dismissed with pay, while teleworkers are expected to telework.  So in other words, teleworkers are expected to work while everyone else is getting paid to not work.  It's unfair, but it's the rule.  The original idea was to have the entire workforce telework so that normal business could continue even during a weather emergency.  That didn't work out, but we're left with some of the remnants of a good idea.  So whenever a snow storm is headed our way, the bosses remind all the teleworkers to bring home their laptops and whatnot in case the office is closed. 

A few weeks ago I left work early on a Thursday afternoon.  I had off on Friday.  I didn't bring my laptop or notepad home (i.e. teleworking materials) because I planned to return to work on Monday like normal.  I didn't check the weather report for Monday because it was four days away and the weather forecasters had just predicted a major snowpocalypse that didn't end up happening.  Fast forward to Monday, and the office is closed due to weather.  I didn't have my telework equipment at home with me, so I didn't do anything that day and used the administrative leave that was offered to all the non-teleworkers. 

Later that week I was approached by my boss who said that since I was a teleworker, I should've been prepared to telework four days in advance over a long weekend.  And since I didn't telework, I would be charged vacation time, because that's essentially what it was.  I presented my side of the story, which I felt was completely reasonable, and I hoped he would see my side of things and grant me an exemption.  He was reluctant, so I pointed out that whether I teleworked or used administrative leave, it would've cost the organization the exact same amount of money, and there was really no benefit to punishing me for an accidental oversight. 

His reply was the following, paraphrased:  There are rules.  I (the boss) must follow these rules.  If I don't follow these rules, I'll hear about it from my boss, and he'll hear about it from his boss, etc.  Request denied. 

I asked him what the actual consequences would be for him if he stood up for me.  We work for a pretty lenient organization, so there's almost no way for people to get fired.  His reply was that it could affect his annual performance review, which might affect his potential annual bonus.  I confirmed with a coworker later that bonuses top out at around $2500, which is not nothing, but also not life-changing. 

In the end, my request for a one time exemption from the rule was denied.  My immediate supervisor (under my boss) said he would've gone to bat for me if he was in charge, and that in the future it's often easier to lie about things like this.  He didn't technically say that, but I completed his sentences for him, and he gave me a wink-wink nudge-nudge. 

I was under the impression that bosses are there to look out for their employees, to advocate for them.  What I experienced was a completely robotic, selfish interpretation of outdated, arbitrary rules.  I almost can't fault my boss because I would've probably done the same thing if I were in his position.  But that's why I'm not in his position.  I'm not a people person; I'm a worker.  If I could transform myself into a boss, I'd rather treat my employees like responsible though flawed adults, instead of lying cheating children.  People tend to act the way you treat them, so expect lying and cheating from me in the future. #business


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