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Monday, May 24, 2010

Sanity Returns To My Schedule - With A Price

I have written previously about the 16-hour workdays I had to go through for a few weeks because of my work at the local census office. I also wrote about how their poor planning lead to a huge binge of over-hiring that eventually lead to shifts being cut or eliminated and schedules being disrupted.

Fortunately, something good did come out of all this eventually. They decided to be fair to everyone who was hired on by cutting everyone's hours roughly equally. Instead of 8-hour shifts, most shifts were cut into two parts, each being 4 hours long. After a bunch of fine-tuning and adjustment, they released the new schedules, and I must say I am very happy with the results. I am still not completely satisfied because the cuts in hours affect only the office review staff, not the Operations Control System (OCS) staff. I think it was not a good idea to split the office into two water-tight compartments and then make hiring and work schedule decisions in each part independent of the other part. But, that is probably something that comes from these census offices not having any kind of institutional memory, since they are staffed for 2 hours around census years and then disbanded (with all employees starting all the way from the office manager being let go).

I will be working only 4 hours a day at the census office going forward. The hours are after regular work hours, so I don't have to make adjustments to my regular work hours to stick to my schedule at the census office. Obviously, I won't be making as much money as I had thought I would when I started the job 4 weeks back. But, to be completely honest, when the census bureau advertised flexible schedules and hours, this is what I had in mind. And this is what I wanted when I went ahead and applied for the jobs. I had no idea their schedules would be so inflexible and clash so much with the full-time jobs that some applicants already have. If they want people to be able to work regular hours like at a full-time job, they should change their recruiting spiel by telling applicants the truth about the job not being compatible with a regular full-time job.

Obviously, working 8 hours a day at the census office is twice as remunerative as working just 4 hours a day. I got paid for about 30 to 36 hours of work each week in my first few weeks at the census office. Going forward, my work hours will probably be closer to 20 to 25 hours. This week, I am scheduled for 20 hours, and I could probably accommodate 24 hours, but not much more without a major readjustment of my life around the census office schedule. So, yes, the census office did something really stupid by hiring a horde of new employees when there was no work for them to do. But, it has resulted in my scheduled becoming a lot more sustainable and workable.

I obviously pay for this with less pocket money from the census bureau, but I have come to the conclusion that the price is worth paying. In fact, the census bureau could be a much better employer by specifically asking potential employees like me (who already have other jobs) whether we would prefer to make more money or work saner hours. I do believe I would have chosen the latter option. Perhaps not right away. I may have toiled for a couple of weeks trying to maximize my earnings, but eventually, I think I would have come to my senses and switched to the better schedule.

Now, my only hope is that they don't do something bone-headed again, and change my schedules all over again. I am getting a little tired of dealing with constantly changing work schedules, and the resultant adjustments I have to negotiate at my regular day job. I have let people at the local census office know that I am very happy with these latest schedules and I don't mind the reduced pay as long as I can get my sanity back. I hope they listened well and heed my request.

As far as the work at the census office is concerned, I seem to have exhausted all the humor in the forms I could find. I haven't run across anything in the past week or so that is worth repeating. There are still people who use the Race fill-in boxes to put down whatever they feel like (such as Mexicano, Latin, etc.), but I haven't come across anything (either there or in the notes or other parts of the questionnaire) that has made me laugh out loud.

As far as my blogging is concerned, the extra time I got because of working reduced hours at the census office enabled me to put together a couple of quick posts. I wrote up a post about the stupid hiring decisions at the census office the day after they disrupted my schedules by cutting my shift in the middle without warning. I don't feel quite so strongly about their stupidity any more because it has had the unintended consequence of making my overall work schedule much easier to put up with.

After that I wrote up a post continuing my analysis of recurring decimals. I could have written up a couple more posts to get back to my regular schedule of blogging, but I was just too lazy and let it slide. Hopefully, I will snap out of it and get around to publishing more frequently and regularly by this time next week.

This was another of those weeks when I did not get visitors from any new countries to my blog. I had expected my blog to hit such a stage a lot earlier, so the fact that it has had a continuous stream of visitors from new countries is actually more surprising to me than the fact that that stream appears to have dried up now. My flagcounter still shows 133 flags as of this writing.

Now, it is time for me to start planning my posts for this or the next week, and start putting them together so that my blog sees some regular, new activity. I had an excuse before, but not anymore. Time to get to work, I guess . . .

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