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Politicians A Telework Program Gone Bad

By Christine Durst & Michael Haaren

Jan. 10, 2013 

Working remotely from employers isn’t for everyone. Politicians, for example, may not be ready for it.

When voters send politicians to Capitol Hill or the statehouse, the latter are working remotely from their employer (us). Has the arrangement been a success?

Well, let’s put it this way: If you were a business owner and your teleworking employees behaved like the politicians in Washington, you’d probably fire them. Indeed, you might be so disappointed in your telework program (not to mention your HR Department’s screening tools) that you’d never let another worker out of your sight.

Politics is a Telework Case Study
Our political arrangements are actually an excellent teaching tool, when you look at them objectively. They show how telework programs should not be structured, managed or even contemplated in passing moments of utter boredom.

1. Accessibility to your teleworkers is paramount. If you don’t have access to your remote workers, you’re asking for trouble. But oddly, one of the first things that newly-hired politicians do is throw up barriers to communication. (Indeed, perversely, they’re more accessible before they get hired – when it’s much less important!)

Even basic phone access is impossible (ever try to get a politician on the phone?). Visits are out of the question, and emails are answered by autoresponders.

No normal employer would ever accept such an arrangement. Or if he did, he’d soon go bankrupt. Fortunately, however, financial consequences don’t apply to government. 

2. Supervision of your teleworkers is indispensable. Some remote workers need close supervision, others less, but to eliminate it altogether invites catastrophe. However, once access to your teleworkers is minimized, supervision is obviously impossible. 

What happens then? Well, try this experiment. Take several hundred teenagers to the mall, give them unlimited spending power with your money and credit, tell them to block all communications from grownups, and check back in a few years to see how they’re doing.

 3. Productivity, anyone? Remote workers in the business world are known for being more productive, and more loyal to their employer. Why? Primarily because they don’t want to jeopardize a good arrangement, and they’re grateful to their employer for letting them work remotely.

Strangely, most politicians demonstrate a remarkable lack of productivity. Indeed, their vigor and enthusiasm often seem more directed to the comforts than the duties of their jobs. And while they can be visibly grateful to their employers, it only seems to appear when its time to interview for the job again.       

As we always say to employees who are considering proposing a telework program to their employer, “Remember, telework is a privilege, not a right. If your employer entrusts you to work remotely, be sure you show that you merit the faith.”

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Christine Durst and Michael Haaren are leaders in the work-at-home movement and advocates of de-rat-raced living. Their latest book is Work at Home Now, a guide to finding home-based jobs. They offer additional guidance on finding home-based work at www.RatRaceRebellion.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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