I guess I should start with full disclosure that the anti-telework lobby is paying me $50,000 to come up with a foolproof plan to send telework to an early grave. Why? Clearly telework is bad and they just want it d-e-a-d. Oh, you mean why are they paying me so much? Not sure, but now their saying its actually going to be paid in Iranian Rials, so that's either $50 million or $5. Well, I'll be living large on the French Riviera or just having (one) grande soy latte when I get done with this.
I started out thinking I could just tell them that no one was taking this telework fad seriously and then cash the check. Then we get Congress and the Obama Administration talking tough about how they are going to push this issue. The next idea was to start talking up the security issues, but I killed that one myself in a recent column. So I guess I need to come up with a new, improved surefire way to deep six this bothersome policy. Hmmm.
Oh, I've got it. Lets just make telework the dumping ground for all of the people we don't want to manage. The ones who waste our time, need too much direction and support, who distract our other employees, and impact morale and productivity. Let's make telework the turkey farm. People like to joke that the problem with the government is that you can't fire anyone. That's actually not true, its just that sometimes its like making baby elephants -- lots of noise and excitement up front, and then you have to wait nearly two years before you get any results. Guess what, it isn't much different in many big companies. Sure, you can lay off a few thousand people, but try to fire just one.
So instead, we often see another approach. If a manager (notice I am not calling this person a leader, because he is not) is fed up with an employee who is sucking up too much time and effort, he can essentially banish them to some obscure project in the basement, trade them to another (unsuspecting) manager, or... wait for it... put them on full time telework status. Out of sight is out of mind, right?
Coworker: "Where's Larry these days?"
Manager: "Oh, he's on full time telework, so he doesn't come in anymore."
Coworker: "What's he working on?"
Manager: "Darned if I know, but he doesn't bother me anymore."
The best part about this plan is that it will snowball. Once we start getting the dead wood out of sight, more managers will get the idea and start sending their tough cases home. Soon, our offices will only be filled with the people who work hard and need little direction. Managers across the nation will rejoice in the fact that they can sit back in their offices, drink their coffee in peace, and finally relax. Then the big bosses see that the managers have nothing to do and they will eliminate their jobs. Finally, there will be no one to send people home to telework. See, a perfect plan.
I sure hope it works, because I don't want to give back all of that money with the beautiful Farsi script on it and the only other option is for the managers to actually act like leaders and help their employees grow and develop into better workers. Nah, that's just crazy talk.