This morning NPR did part 1 of a 3 part series called The End Of 9-to-5: When Work Time Is Anytime by Jennifer Ludden. Heavy traffic, long commutes to sit in cubicles, and needing to save money, one agency (Human Services and Public Health Department of Hennepin County, in Minneapolis, MN) started a practice called ROWE (results-only work environment) = as long as the work gets done on time, people can work from wherever and whenever. Ending long commutes with less cars on the road and eliminating the need to widen roads (and its GREENer), happier people b/c they can spend more time with their families or doing things they like, has ended up with money savings and increased productivity. When people are home, working, they get work done in chunks of time, take breaks, go back and work…. when they are physically at work from 9-5, they aren’t working non stop, but pausing for chats, breaks, gossip session, etc and less efficient overall getting things done. (speaking personally from experience working in both areana, this is so true!)
Can your library analyze its workflows and processes to allow flexibility with employees? For synchronous needs, meetings can be held virtually online or instant messaging can be used to chat. People will have to be in the physical building to serve the public – just as they are in this NPR story example – but does everyone have to be there every day from 9-5pm? probably not. Save space, save money (on facility expenses), have happier employees, and effective productivity through willingness to analyze your processes, look at things with a fresh perspective, and change. And you’ll be GREENer too!
For employers or employees, here is an article with some ideas to help you think through the process and decided how to make telecommuting work for everyone. The article lists some simple sections on How to Stay Connected while working at home, Creating Reasons for Why this should be allowed, and A Trial Run of starting small (one day a month) to test the idea.
In general, it saves the employee money on gas, thus being more environmentally friendly, and will allow the employee to be more productive by eliminating the the social aspects and distractions of an office environment. Other suggestions for why can be found on this old post.
Recent articles on the topic:
- Duncan, J. (2008). “Working from Afar: A New Trend in Librarianship.” College and Research Libraries News 69(4): 216-18, 236.
- Gajendran, R. S., & Harrison, D. A. (2007). “The good, the bad, and the unknown about telecommuting: Meta-analysis of psychological mediators and individual consequences.” Journal of Applied Psychology 92(6): 1524-1541.
- Gajendran, R. S., Harrison, D. A., Facer, R. L., & Wadsworth, L. (2008). “Alternative Work Schedules and Work-Family Balance: A Research Note.” Review of public personnel administration 28(2): 166-177.
- Nelson, P., Safirova, E., & Walls, M. (2007). “Telecommuting and environmental policy: Lessons from the ecommute program. ” Transportation Research Part D: Transport and Environment 12(3): 195-207.
- Oppenheim, R. (2008). On the Road Again: Gear for a Mobile World. Searcher, 16(3), 20-3, 60-2.
- Oppenheim, R. (2008). An Office in Every Home? Searcher, 16(5): 30-3, 62-3.
- Peterson, S. (2007). “This eWEEK: Tech advancements have improved telecommuting.” EWEEK 24 (6): 5 -7.
- Rash, W. (2007). “Government Slow to Adopt.” EWEEK , 24 (3): 14.
If you do try working from home, join the new telecommuting librarians list; details found on this Beyond the Job blog post.
There have been some comments on the e-list from TFOE (task force of the Social Responsibilities Round Table of ALA – Task Force on the Environment) mentioning that next Thursday June 19 is “Dump the Pump” day. Dump the Pump Day is organized by several transportation agencies, encouraging people to not fill up at the gas station that day – to make a statement. Try taking public transportation, walking, biking, or telecommuting. Some librarians disagree with this Day; that US citizens pay much less in gas than most other countries already compared to the amount the we consume, that we need to rethink our lifestyle instead of just not buying gas one day at the pump. Telecommuting is a great option that many people are looking into even in libraries. Can we be create and figure out ways to run a library w/ less people physically on site?
BTW, if you haven’t checked out TFOE they offer some great tips and information on their Web site. TFOE and SRRT were behind the idea of encouraging conference goers at ALA Midwinter last January, to bring their own water bottles and travel coffee mugs instead of wasting disposable cups. I wonder if this is happening at ALA annual later this month?
Is it possible to offer a telecommuting option? Even just a day a week? With the technological advancements we have today, many people could work out of their homes and still connect to the office network. Academics could do research day from home. Many public libraries are starting ebranchs that can be managed at times from home. We even had someone (home with a baby) do cataloging from her house. With distance education growing, classes can be taught online with many e-resources offered without a physical building or person needing to be local. Try brainstorming others ways to offer telecommuting as an option – maybe not daily (yes, we need staff to run the physical library), but as we move into a more virtual environment, we don’t need everyone everyday driving to the office.