Monday, July 14. 2008
It's no real surprise that the US economy is spiraling down the crapper. Prices for everything has gone up and wages have dropped and/or stagnated. The biggest increase (and impact both to the economy as well as to each individual person) has been in the cost of energy. With gasoline prices above $4 a gallon, I don't know of anyone who isn't significantly changing their driving habits.
But for the most part, there is one "habit" that is very very hard to change, even when you really want to. It's the drive back and forth to work. Mass transit in the vast majority of the areas around the US is a joke and although people would love to use it, it's not a viable alternative. You would think that companies and businesses would be smart, realize the pain and seriously look at such obvious alternatives as compressed work weeks or telecommuting (for the benefit of the employees, the economy and the global climate).
Except for some rare exceptions, the management of most companies agree that it will result in significant savings and benefits, but still refuse to offer the option. After all, we all know how devious and untrustworthy employees are. You need the watchful and ethical eyes of management on them at all times, to ensure that they do their jobs. I hope readers appreciate the sarcasm.
What really got me going about this topic was an articles in today's Baltimore Sun about this very issue. It appears that one county government actually has a flexible workweek option available for employees (including compressed), but they *actively discourage people from using it*! A spokesman states, "We're comfortable where we are." Yeah, I bet you are, but what about the employees? What a joke.
Make no mistake, of course. There are some positions where telecommuting (my favorite alternative) does not make sense. But if you are in front of a computer terminal for most of the day, either as programmer, developer, designer, administrator, accountant, etc... then there is really no valid reason why you cannot do a lot of your work from home. Heck, people bring work home all the time, to "catch up."
When will the powers that be get smart enough to realize that the days of 9-5, Monday-Friday, in the office are on their way out. We, as a society, can no longer afford such old-fashioned concepts.
Disclosure: I have been lucky enough to be able to have telecommuted for several years now... My past and present employer see the obvious value and benefits of the arrangement. Of course, one never knows what the future will bring...