Challenges Facing Public Employees in a ROWE Workplace

As public employees working in a ROWE, we have discovered uniqueness to the environment where we work compared to Valspar, Fairview, Best Buy, and other organizations working in a ROWE.  We are Public Employees.  We are therefore required by law to work 40 hours per week or 80 hours per pay period.  We also have organized employees in our ranks, and we have contracts that have been negotiated to protect the rights of staff.  We need to honor these contracts at work. We also have state mandates that dictate certain areas of our work that we need to adhere to, and we have political direction that drives our organization.

What does this mean in a ROWE?

In a ROWE, you still need to work your 40 hours per week, or 80 hours per pay period, but depending on your job and the team agreements, you may have the opportunity to work those 40 hours anytime during the full 7 day week, or 80 hours during a 14 day time period (depending on your job status).  In a ROWE, staff work when they are most productive, which means that they can get the job accomplished at 3:00 in the morning, they are encouraged to choose those hours to work.  Also, in a ROWE, if staff find that they are more effective at meeting the client's needs outside of regular business hours, they are encouraged to work those hours.  If staff find that they are out of work and still need to put in their 40 hours, they will decide what they want to do with those extra hours:  do they want to help the team get the work accomplished?  Do they want to do research on resources?  Do they want to shadow another employee?  Attend a training?  Volunteer for a committee?  It's up to that person to decide.

Unions represent many staff in HSPHD, and each Union has a contract that has been negotiated by the Union and Management.  This contract includes guidelines for things like schedules, time off, types of leave, and other information.  It is very important that while working in a ROWE, you follow contract guidelines.  If you have questions about these guidelines, contact a Union Steward.

Some areas have mandates or work plans from the state or other organizations that guide their work and are based on funding.  In a ROWE, these mandates and work plans are important to follow.  Each staff member who is working under these guidelines has the right to know what is specifically written in the mandates or work plans, and it is entirely appropriate in a ROWE to have discussions about how to enforce changes to the mandates or work plans that will allow more efficient practices.  However, until the mandates or work plans are updated, it is important to follow the guidelines that are agreed upon.

As a Government entity, we are directed by political agendas that drive things like budget, community partnerships, etc.  Often, this allows staff to expand their resources and creative ideas, but recently, we have experienced more limitations to the resources that we have available to us.  We have a responsibility to our organization and clients to achieve the mission of our department "Building better lives and stronger communities" even during the most difficult times.   In a ROWE, all staff and leaders in HSPHD are encouraged to express their ideas about how to better achieve our mission by getting involved in projects like P3 or sending suggestions for change to the HSPHD Suggestion Box.  

~ Carolyn Johnson, ROWE Internal Change Agent and Local 34 Chief Steward