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comment by veen
veen  ·  25 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Pubski: November 10, 2021

I hope you’ll allow me to reopen this discussion… there may be a way to resolve it after all.

I was wondering why I could sympathize/agree with both of your arguments, and I think the difference is that it really matters what kind of work we’re talking about.

KB is talking about mission-critical work, whereas you are (I assume) talking about a kind of modern knowledge work. Imagine going to the dentist, making an appointment and having it be a maybe until the evening before. Nobody would like that, or ever come back to the dentist again. Their work needs to be done by a particular person at a particular time and place, so it matters that promises are kept and claims on time are honored.

Now imagine meeting up to write a PR strategy with some colleagues. The ground truth with a lot of knowledge work these days is that each individual contribution isn’t always critical to the outcome. Almost all of the meetings I am in do not need to happen that day or that specific place. They should probably happen that week, but if they’re postponed by a day or two the consequences are usually zero or manageable.

Now that doesn’t mean each attendee’s contribution to that hypothetical PR strategy meeting is worthless; it usually just means the conclusions reached have a blind spot, or are less good than they otherwise would be. Usually, that results in one or two questions being raised during the meeting that person X who’s not there should know, so someone jots it down to ask them later, or a decision is postponed until that person has clarified a thing. Again: there are consequences, but they are low.

What I’m trying to say is that any specific person’ s absence in knowledge work is largely inconsequential, which means that an uncertainty in anyone’s presence is much, much less of a problem for everyone involved.

Then there’s also a difference in what happens when someone reappears. “I took PTO but I changed my mind so today I can work” sucks balls in healthcare, because there aren’t specific demands on specific persons just ready to go.

On the other hand, I had this Monday blocked entirely because of a conference that I ended up not attending. Because a lot of knowledge work is divided in a small, important, focused set of work that Needs Done Now and a much larger, nearly endless list of less important / less urgent work that Needs Done, Well, Whenever, But Not Never, I could just pick stuff from those two lists and work on that instead. For the first list it means you get to improve the expectations you set earlier. “Hey, I thought I’d send you this on Monday, but I found some time to do it today so here you go!” For the second list it usually only matters that I do it, but not when or where.

In other words, because the consequences of pushing knowledge work around are so much lower than that of anything KB’s used to (healthcare, engineering, …), and because it is so much less time/person/resource specific work, it really does make a difference in how much less of an annoyance it is to have someone who retracts their announced PTO.


kleinbl00  ·  25 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Because BFX and I are buddies, we can talk places where nobody else can see.

My perspective is not that of someone in healthcare or engineering, it's that of someone who has to deal with interpersonal beefs between employees caused by scheduling conflicts. I was speculating that, if there is a supervisor-initiated discussion about scheduling, somewhere there is beef.

It may be utterly groundless beef. It may be entirely inconsequential beef. But if one of my employees says "I hate it when Lexi wears that green hoodie, she's deliberately harshing my aura" the easiest thing for me to do (not necessarily the correct thing to do) is to say "(sigh) I'll mention it to Lexi if you promise to make your best efforts to soldier on like a good little Ramthite, here I bought you an orgone now shut up." And, since we live in a "both sides"/"live my best truth" universe, I'll probably ask Lexi not to flaunt her green hoodie quite so much because I'm a spineless manager that mostly needs to justify my paycheck.

I would say 95% of everything that goes wrong at the office is Someone Else's Fault, doesn't matter who you are. And since we'd much rather come at stuff obliquely than directly, Someone Else is never going to be confronted about it. "Lexi gets more Fridays off than I do" isn't something you can bitch about if Lexi made it clear she's gonna take Fridays off. But if Lexi gets more Fridays off than you do, there will be a problem of some sort that's directly attributable to Lexi not being here Friday.

We actually dealt with this a few months back. Technically? to get paid for telemedicine you're supposed to only conduct business from your place of practice. No malpractice insurance for your house? Can't do zoom visits from there, gotta come into the office. Stupid? Yes. Unenforceable? Yes. Have we seen any claims kicked back? not yet... but better safe than sorry? Especially when one of our clinicians was doing her visits from her living room while her husband remodeled the kitchen behind her (not exactly HIPAA-compliant). But one of our other clinicians kicked back really hard because why does she have to come into the office? And then an in-person visit was incorrectly recorded as a televisit and the patient showed up and this all would have been avoided if we could just agree to be in the office when we say we're going to be in the office.

This was a real sticking problem until we determined that this lady just doesn't like being awake before 9am, and really prefers to take it slow in the morning. So okay, we'll book you in the office from 10:30 in the morning. No problem. Now we've got versatility to do in-person visits if they come up, she can sleep in, and otherwise you come in when you need to come in. The important part was getting stuff bolted down because the absence of one person, in our office at least, affects the schedule of three other people and two rooms.


I listed a few examples where it could be an actual problem. I doubt it's an actual problem. I wasn't trying to say "BFX is wrong" I was trying to say "here's an insight as to why this meeting could be happening." I would say that as a business owner, most of our "management" is basically helping our employees put up with other people's bullshit. Fortunately for us it's almost all external to our organization.