Teleworking: 50 Shades of Not-So-Gray

Hundreds, maybe tens of thousands of Washington-Baltimore area feds had to work last Wednesday when most of the federal workforce here got the day off, because of a mini-blizzard that fizzled as it got near our famous Capital Beltway.

In addition to persons designated as “emergency” employees, persons who are telework-ready were also expected to be at their home posts, even if it was not their regular telework day. Many people who are allowed to telework pick Monday or Fridays as their day away from the office. Some were less than happy when advised Tuesday night or Wednesday morning that they were expected to carry on as per usual, even though Wednesday wasn’t their regular telework day. Like the lady in the “50 Shades” book, they got more than they volunteered for.

In yesterday’s column, some expressed their irritation at being asked to work even though it was not their telework-designated day. We got hit with a number of emails on the subject. Most said the telework-ready folks were lucky and that working a day out of rotation wasn’t a hardship. For instance:

  • “Unbelievable. People clamored to be allowed to telework, but when they’re told to telework, they scream not fair? I guess you just can’t please some folks. The fact is, they get paid to work five days a week or whatever schedule they’re on — so they should work their schedule. Now that’s fair!” — Deb in PA
  • “I love it when people want to have it both ways. I want to ‘tele- work’ from the comfort of my home when it suits MY convenience, but when it suits the convenience (or necessity) of my employer (that evil ogre who puts food on my table and keeps a roof over my head) well, now that’s different. Early in my federal career, I worked in a transportation department as a driver/equipment operator. One of the vehicles I drove was truck with a snow plow attached. I was considered ‘essential,’ so when we had a monster snow storm (one I recall in particular was 1978, but there were others) while other “non-essential” feds were tucked warm in their beds, I was out pushing snow. Did I expect or get time and a half? No and no. The tele-work ready employee is no different than the ‘essential’ employee. If your job is so important that you CAN work from home, then you MUST be essential.” — Former Essential (now retired) Fed
  • “I was one of those who worked at home last Wednesday. I normally telework two days per week. I figure that in one year I save over 200 hours of my time by not commuting and nearly $1,000 in gas and tolls. So what if I missed out on one day of administrative leave.” John M.
  • “A bad day at home teleworking is better than a great day at the office. One point not brought up is that with the federal government closed last Wednesday, even if you teleworked it was reasonably quiet, thus my first sentence. Besides, I got to smell a pot of chili simmer all day while working on a spreadsheet … life is good.” — becca



Compiled by Jack Moore

A German food company has created the world’s first edible spray paint. The paint comes in gold, silver, red and blue and retails for about $30. “I love it when it’s not only our cars which have a metallic finish but also our tomatoes,” one of the products’ designers said.

(Source: Huffington Post)


Senate budget bill extends federal pay freeze to end of 2013
Senate Democrats and Republicans released a 2013 government funding bill Monday that includes language to extend the federal pay freeze through the end of the calendar year, while providing additional funding for domestic priorities like health research and highway projects.

DoD furloughs to begin April 26, with almost no exceptions
The vast majority of the Defense Department’s civilian workforce will begin to receive notifications as soon as next week that they should expect to be furloughed for 22 days this year. Actual furloughs will begin before the end of April, and there will be virtually no leeway as to whether an employee is furloughed or for how long.

Federal workers owe $3.5 billion in back taxes
The number of federal workers and retirees who owed delinquent income taxes jumped by nearly 12 percent in 2011, the Internal Revenue Service said Friday. Nearly 312,000 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.5 billion in back taxes as of Sept. 30, 2011, the agency said. The year before, about 279,000 workers and retirees owed $3.4 billion.

Obama poised to pick Perez for Labor
President Barack Obama is close to naming Thomas Perez, a civil rights official in the Justice Department, as his choice to head the Department of Labor, two people familiar with the process say.