mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tightening the workplace belt...

The college I work for had it's annual "division event" this morning for our division, which includes most of the support functions for the school, from IT to facilities to special events staff to finance and HR.

We ate breakfast, then listened to a number of speeches from the higher-ups, most of which told us that we aren't doing too badly, but are hurting somewhat from "these economic times". As part of that, they are looking to cut costs, and asked people to come up with ideas and then present them.

The ideas ranged from good to awful. Many centered on energy savings, but some also suggested costs that would be born by employees, like charging for the shuttle buses that run to satellite parking, or worst of all, someone suggested that departments stop providing coffee for their employees.

That, of course, is the worst possible kind of cost cutting - the kind that saves almost no money, but kills employee moral. While some departments have fancy coffee machines, we have a standard Hamilton Beach coffee maker and an industrial-size drum of Maxwell House. It can't cost more than $200 a year, and it keeps our department caffeinated and happy. It's a part of most people's routine - drop your stuff off at the office, grab a cup of joe, and then sit at your desk and start facing the emails and voicemails and trouble tickets and stacks of paper on your desk.

One of the scarier suggestions was cutting overtime, coming up with a plan with when it would be worked and looking into if it is more cost-effective to pay a full-time employee instead. What was scary about it was that it was brought up by our CIO.

I made quite a bit of OT last year, and have worked some this year already. It makes a big difference in my personal budget, but it also helps us get stuff done. The thing is that much of the OT I've worked is not stuff that could be easily done by a full-time employee. Some of it is coverage for odd hours, for times when we normally aren't open - like coverage for open houses or during finals or move-in week. Some of it has been working on stuff that I'm responsible for, like stuff for our Office 2007 deployment via SCCM or updating our images that we use for computers. Training someone for these tasks would probably take more time and money than just hiring someone.

So I think I can justify my OT, and that it makes sense in our workflow. I also think if we are going to have to take on large projects - like an upcoming Outlook deployment - without additional staff, it's going to be impossible to do it without overtime.

When it was announced, I grumbled that if OT was canned, a bunch of work wouldn't get done for lack of time. That's probably not true - if I have to work extra hours, I probably will, even if I can't get paid for them. It's a combination of guilt (if I was better at my job, I would be able to get everything done during work hours) and fear (if I don't get this done, I'll get fired). But I hope it doesn't come down to that.


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