Page 19 - Foreign Service Journal - October, 2012b

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THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
|
OCTOBER 2012
19
access might not be the perfect candi-
dates for extensive teleworking, that isn’t
necessarily a deal breaker.
Some of our colleagues in the Bureau
of Intelligence and Research successfully
telework by using “classifed buddies.”
Under this system, employees use their
e-mail and phone autoreplies to identify
a colleague who can assist clients while
they’re out of the ofce.
The Value of Flexibility
Beyond telework, many of us know
that the department allows for fexible
work schedules and job-sharing. (Anec-
dotally, it appears employees in func-
tional bureaus have more success with
setting up such arrangements than those
in regional bureaus.)
But is it as easy as it should be to
secure these arrangements? And are
as many people trying fexible work
schedules as could be doing so? Why not
set up a centralized place on the intranet
that lists individuals seeking a job-share
arrangement?
Ten there is the question of what
guidance State Department managers
use to decide whether to approve such
arrangements. A few colleagues have told
me that they were denied such arrange-
ments solely because “If I approve your
request, then everyone will want to do it.”
I don’t think the Foreign Afairs
Manual imposes a cap on the number
of employees allowed to follow fexible
work schedules or telework. But even if it
did, this logic is fawed.
First, not everyone wants to have an
alternative work schedule, job-share or
telework arrangement. Second, it should
not be OK to dismiss a request out of
hand rather than take the time to evalu-
ate it on the merits. Supervisors should
consider granting an FWS or telework
arrangement on a trial basis and give
their employees the chance to succeed.
Tey may be surprised by the positive
efect on their employees’ energy and
dedication.
Child Care
Ten there’s the child care issue. Few
subjects evoke greater angst in parents
than the lack of child care resources. On
returning to Washington, D.C., for an
assignment, I was shocked to learn of
two-year waiting lists for day care place-
ment—ironically, the length of my tour.
Diplotots, which has only about 100
spots, has between 600 and 1,000 chil-
dren on its waitlist. Nor does it have an
electronic-based, transparent system for
handling those awaiting placement. State
should consider investing in a contract
similar to the one at the National Insti-
tutes of Health, which allows for auto-
matic quarterly updates of one’s status
on the waitlist, and provides assistance
fnding other non-NIH day care options
if no spaces become available in the time
frame needed.
Like many other ofcers returning to
Washington, I ended up hiring a nanny.
Not only was that option more expensive
than a day care facility would have been,
but lining her up consumed most of my
maternity leave—when I should have
been enjoying my son rather than stress-
ing about fnding suitable care.
Realizing that this is a major headache
for Foreign Service and Civil Service
employees alike, the department is in
the process of opening up a new child
care center in the new Consular Afairs
building; as luck would have it, that space
already housed such a facility. Ideally, the
new site will include a waitlist manage-
ment component in its contract.
Te department also pays for a ser-
vice through InfoQuest to help identify
sources of emergency backup care when