Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pardon me, my ROWE is showing

Some of you may recall that as of the beginning of 2009, all hourly design staff including moi are at 36 hours a week.  I was at 36 hours like everyone else until FCH started in earnest.  Shortly after Intern Kimmy and I got on the project full time, Bosley sent us an email saying that we were allowed to work up to 40 hours a week on the project.  I was having to work 40 just so I could get 32 hours on FCH--other little proejcts that I was wrapping up for Sven, Howie, and Prudence kept taking my time.  Finally, now that I'm 95%-100% on FCH, I'm still only getting about 38 or 39 hours.  The project actually takes up my extra four hours that I was hoping to use to do some writing.  I'm still finding time for that on Tuesday and Thursday nights when Guy is at pool league, but if/when one or both of his leagues shuts down for the summer, writing with someone else in the house gets harder to do.  

Still and yet, note that I'm still barely at 40 hours a week with a full project to do.  First off, having help makes all the difference in the world.  I did Wheatlands with very little help, which caused my 60-hour workweeks.  Intern Kimmy's efforts are making the project less arduous and way better.  She's comfortable with Revit and fantastic with Adobe Illustrator and PageMaker (very handy for doing presentation graphics).  I don't think she's at 40/wk either.  We get it done with a little time (an hour or two) to spare.  While it's not enough to write a book, it's enough to let her leave a little early on a Wednesday and catch a yoga class or an afternoon bike ride, and I can get my laundry and grocery shopping done, which frees up my weekend for actual fun.  Having these extra four hours has made it easier to do things like take Maddy to the vet or even deal with my own doctor visits.  One day, I just came home and took a nap.

There's this concept of the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) that I initially rejected but now it speaks to me.  Summarized, it's that we should pay people for the work they accomplish, not for the time they're warming a seat in the office.  For many workers, technology allows them to work from more places than just their desk, so why not?  While this only works somewhat for architects (if you draw, you need some badass machines to run software like Revit), there's still some merit to it.  Sometimes in the past few weeks, I've found myself turning 6.5 or 7 hours' work into 8 because I didn't know if Bosley was going to suddenly need something.  Why can I not help him from afar, or in a timely manner when I return to the office first thing the next morning?  Again, if I can do eight hours' work in 6 or 7, why am I being punished for my efficiency and made to stay in the office?

There's a small ray of hope here, though.  Our office recently implemented Newforma, which is a project management software that links well with Outlook (a Microsoft email program).  In a recent office meeting, Bosley made the point to the entire office that every level of DA's staff--partners all the way down to interns--should know how to use the software and use the new file naming conventions.  "The idea," Bosley proclaimed, "is that no one's going, 'hey Pixie, where's that thing from Wheatlands, or that drawing from Kansaska?' You don't need other people to find stuff for you--you find it yourself."  That's the kind of thing that most higher-ups do, but I don't think anyone at DA does it more than Howie.  If this gets implemented the way Bosley means for it to be, it means fewer interns and young architects having to be on call for the whims of their bosses--one step closer to ROWE.


Intern said...

the day I can stop playing Fido go fetch that drawing and actually concentrate on my task... I'll be in heaven. Though I have my doubts on this one

Wilderness Gina said...

I hate when some site goes to OUTLOOK to e-mail someone or another. This piece of crap machine I laughingly call a computer can't handle OUTLOOK for some arcane reason. I'm turning into Dogbert despite my best efforts. "BRING ME THE BALL BAT! STATT!!!"