So let me get this straight. You want me to sign a “limited telework agreement” that basically says management can tell me to work from home any time it’s convenient for them (i.e. whenever the office is closed due to some outside condition like snow, hurricane, or wildfire). In return, they may possibly consider allowing me to work from home a few days a year on days when I would usually take some kind of leave (i.e. dthe cable guy coming to fix the TV). I hope you’ll forgive me if I don’t jump at the opportunity to sign on for something that’s a whole lot of upside for management, but that gives me pretty much nothing in return.
Oh, and just in case you were considering signing up for the program, you’re signed agreement will give your employer the right to come into your home to inspect for “safety”. Sure that will probably never happen, but even knowing it’s possible is more than a little creepy; a creep factor that I’d be willing to deal with if it were for a regularly scheduled day where I’d get to read memos and build PowerPoint decks while wearing my fuzzy slippers and sitting at my kitchen table. It’s not a creep factor I’m willing to get onboard with just to have the privilege of working the next time we get snow deep enough to make the roads too hazardous to get to the office. Honestly, if it’s so bad that I consider coming to work a hazard to life or limb, I’ll go ahead and exercise the unscheduled leave option if the powers that be are too hardheaded to close up shop for the day.
For me, it’s a simple fact of living in the 21st century: Telework is either a good program or it’s not. It’s something worth doing right or it’s not. For an organization that does business in 100+ countries to say that individual productivity depends on sitting in a cube so people have physical access to them is farcical… or it would be farcical if they weren’t so serious when they said it. I’ve been at it long enough to know that you don’t gain a damned thing from swimming against the tide. I’m not going to wage war for the sanctity of telework and I’m certainly not going to fall on my sword for it, but the chance of my signing a “limited” agreement are somewhere between slim and none.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.