Service disruption…

There was a planned water outage at our building today. Now there are a number of questions one could reasonably ask about that, such as why this long planned outage was scheduled to begin at 7:30 in the morning on a Wednesday instead of some time during the last two weeks when the building was occupied by little more than a skeleton crew. Wednesday, for anyone paying attention to the ebb and flow of the workforce, is generally the day when the building is most densely occupied. Planning work to impact the maximum number of people feels like some solidly piss poor government decision making. 

Additionally, cutting off the water supply to a building that’s still largely papered with signs reminding everyone to maintain social distance and to frequently wash their hands in order to help reduce the spread of viral illness, is one of those things that could be considered at least vaguely irresponsible. It doesn’t feel like being able to perform basic personal hygiene activities, such as using the restroom or washing your hands, should be something that echelons higher than reality decide we just don’t need to do for half the day or longer. 

Of course, there was a simple and obvious answer to how this known and planned on situation could have been handled. Someone at a responsible level of decision making should have been able to look at a planned lack of running water, an easy to project inability for people to perform simple hygienic and sanitary activities, and make a decision that “Hey, this might be a good day to minimize the number of people in the building and let the majority work from an alternate location for the day.” 

Unsurprisingly, the decision from management was that no, we were going to press on with business as usual. If there was ever a more neon flashing sign that the decision makers at echelons higher than reality have willfully opted to ignore the lessons of the last three years, I haven’t seen it… yet. 

We had a once in a lifetime chance to redesign how work – especially information work – gets done in this country and we’ve blown it up in favor of falling back to the management principles and philosophies of the 1950s. It’s completely telling that when a service disruption at home prevents me from performing my job, I’m expected to schlep over to the office or take the appropriate amount of leave… but when the office is unable to provide uninterrupted water service, I’m also expected to schlep into the office and act as if that’s just a normal thing to do instead of going to a place where all the utilities are functional for the day.

I’d pretend to be surprised, but no one would believe me.

2 thoughts on “Service disruption…

  1. Slightly off topic but I know a passion of yours is your local Union and it’s inability to negotiate work from home. I am sure you noticed DCs Mayor calling for a return of all federal employees to onsite work. If not, I’m sorry to get your blood pressure up with that news. But the real worry for you and people like my brother, who works for the feds also, is that Uncle Joe just might be keen to and or talked into that idea. Think about that one for a short second.

    • NYC’s mayor has been singing the same tune for a while now. Personally I’d argue the better move for taxpayers would ultimately be to get the federal government out of the property management business and dispose of the thousands of federal properties occupying some of the most valuable real estate in the country. The feds have had some version of hybrid work in place for at least 20 years, so I can’t see it going away entirely, but I’m not fool enough to think there won’t be a hard press to roll it back.

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