Teleworkers: Orphans of the storm

On miserable, cold sleet-and-snow days, those of us who must report for work envy our lucky PJ-clad colleagues who are snugly teleworking from home. But on really bad snow/ice days, when nonemergency government functions are shut down and workers allowed to stay home, the worm turns. Then, teleworkers envy their “nonessential” colleagues because they, the chosen, are expected to either work or take annual leave. No day off for them! According to government figures, nearly half the nonpostal federal workforce is eligible to telework. The winter of 2013-2014 isn’t over yet. But it has already produced what may be a record number of shutdown days not only in D.C. — Wimp City to some people — but also in places like Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston and New York. Birmingham, Ala., and Jackson, Miss., have taken hits too. Last week, what would be considered a light dusting in in the North, caused five-hour traffic jams in Atlanta. Many employers (including the government) were faulted for not keeping nonessential workers at home. Federal operations were impacted too. So what do teleworkers have to say about the large number of snow days? Let’s find out:

  • “I am telework ready. As such I am expected to be on the job and productive when my agency shuts down for any reason. I am grateful to be able to work from home, however I think that the people who consider us lucky forget that while they are sleeping late, we are on the job.” — Cindy in D.C.
  • “Whenever anybody complained about their job, my father used to say ‘That’s why they call it work!’ I have been known to say it myself. With that said, I think the media should point out, when we have weather closures, that large numbers of people are working both at home and at the office too. Calling it a government shutdown gives the wrong impression.” — Mark with the IRS
  • “Hi Mike! We’re dealing with the chilly temps out here in Wyoming too, but without the gridlock, and scary numbers of people on the roads on the way to/from work. We’ve had a couple of snow days for the schools, but not enough depth of snow to cancel the day here at the office. It’s generally got to be well over a foot to bother us that much. Those who live outside of town, of course, have the option to telework or take leave when it’s not safe to drive. We are actually sort of hoping that the deep freeze will stick around long enough to wipe out the pine beetles, and keep the lakes good and frozen for ice fishing.” — Kat at the Forest Service

NEARLY USELESS FACTOID Compiled by Jack Moore South Koreans are the hardest drinking bunch in the world, according to research firm Euromonitor International. South Koreans consume an average of 11.2 shots of hard liquor a week. Russians throw back just five shots a week on average. (Time)

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