Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Beth from Barnes City With an Early Thirsty On Putting in 40 Hours On Campus.

I work in a field where we have year-long contracts. No cushy 9 month, summers off type of thing here. Recently, we got a new director. He has started micromanaging us, to the point where we almost feel as though we need to punch a time clock to go to lunch. He expects us to be there 8-5 regardless if we actually have class earlier, or not.

There is no more fudge factor, even if we spent all weekend working on grading something. It didn’t used to be like this with our prior director, and my significant other works for the same university in a different department. He is not held to the same stringent standards.

Q: So, my question is – is this the way it is at your university or perhaps am I just being a snowflake faculty member?


  1. I probably sound like a broken record, but talk to a dean. And don't work weekends unless they're paying you extra for the teaching.

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  3. Try again...

    Roll a hand grenade into his office.
    Poison his coffee.
    Vaporize his Bimmer.

    Problem solved.

  4. Absolutely not, on both counts. One of the few perks of my job is the ability to set my own hours, and decide where I work most of those hours.

    I suspect this varies a bit by discipline (it's one thing for me to work at home, since all I need is a computer and an internet connection; someone who needs a lab to work wouldn't have the same flexibility. On the other hand, plenty of academics who need labs, studios, etc. are known for working whatever crazy hours suit them).

    I have worked at an institution (a liberal arts college) where faculty members were expected to be on campus every weekday. But that boiled down to holding at least one office hour (and, usually, teaching at least one class). And even in that situation, many people were on campus for only the morning, afternoon, or evening of a given day. Someone who taught until 10 p.m. the evening before certainly wasn't expected to be there at 9 the next morning (and some people were never in at 9 in the morning, which was fine, because most of the students weren't either, unless they had to be in class).

    Yes, you need to talk to someone in authority over your director. And if that someone endorses the new regime, you need to be very sure that you have sufficient time between 8 and 5 to finish all your grading, class prep, etc. If you have to be present for those 45 hours, then all your work should fit into those 45 hours (or 40, assuming there's a lunch break in there), and you should adjust assignments until it does, and refuse any additional work the director tries to assign that would interfere with your completing your core duties in the 40-45 work hours. And if you have a class scheduled other than between 8 and 5, then you should definitely be able to come in late or leave early to make up for those hours.

    In addition to the supervisor's boss, it might make sense to talk to a union rep or someone in your campus AAUP chapter. Autonomy and flexibility are two of the major reasons people stay in academia (especially now that the job security conferred by tenure is increasingly rare), and organizations that represent faculty have a vested interest in preserving both.

  5. I have never heard of such a thing. As CC says, autonomy and flexible hours are one of the big reasons people stay in academe. Talk to someone.

  6. I totally agree with CC. If this person wants to treat it like a "regular" 8-5 job (though most are 9-5, but I digress), then by all means do so. Get there promptly at 8am and don't let the door hit you on the way out at 5pm. Also, be sure to take an entire hour for lunch-uninterrupted by anything like students, a meeting, or other work. ONLY work when you're in your office. NOTHING should go home with you, including emails. If he wants anything in the evening or on the weekend, give yourself comp time for it.

    I had to do this kind of crap when I was working in Student Affairs when our director thought we had to work our 8:15-4:45pm AND any evenings and weekends, so I NEVER came in early, NEVER stayed late, and NEVER took anything home. I also complained to the Dean and went to HR about the "expectations". He was soon "transferred" because many, many things simply did not get done or were late. If people want to run academia like a factory, then so be it. We all can play those reindeer games and see what happens. I bet the "consumers" complain shortly thereafter.

    Good Luck to you!

  7. This is NOT how it is at my institution (one thing for which to be grateful, I suppose). That sounds absurd... unless you're a staff member with other mysterious tasks to accomplish.

    What, exactly, do you do for all of that time? In summer, I admit that I'm at home writing things for publication for longer than 8-5 p.m., but I'm not sure I could be productive if I were required to do so IN MY OFFICE. I would likely end up on FaceBook the first half of the day and on College Misery the other half of the day. Hmm....

  8. Short answer: we say, start an insurrection. Strellie will be along shortly to help.
    Less short answer: how many of us don't actually use our offices for "real work?" Scientists have their labs, artists and musicians their studios, and liberal artists can't even begin to fit their personal libraries into the space of an average office. If we were confined to our cubiclé for nine hours a day, five days a week, we'd be forever frustrated, since the One Book We Really Needed was at home with all our other books. Plus, like (we suspect) a fair number of other academics, we picked up Really Weird Sleep Patterns as a student that are entirely out of sync with an 8-5 schedule . . . well, unless that's 8 PM to 5 AM. That works quite well for us, come to think of it.
    So let the power-mad control freak reap what he sows. If he wants you to actually be able to do your jobs, he'll swiftly reconsider.

  9. This doesn't sound like a faculty job.

  10. I've had it both ways. Early on I had a boss whose philosophy was, "I'll get my money's worth out of you, so I'm not going to watch you like a hawk." My current supervisor is obessed with everyone's whereabouts at all times. So I've adopted the philosophy, "If you want to put a bell on me I hope you like the way it sounds 'cause I'm going to ring it so much it'll either become 'white noise' or you'll go deaf from hearing it."

    Hang on- I have to go check in.

    "Hear ye! Hear ye! Sawyer has returned from making use of the facilities! A second morning beverage has been added to fill the void. Updates regarding its progress through the proper channels forthcoming! All is well!"

    (Only a slight exaggeration.)

  11. Also? Work 50-minute hours, taking a 10-minute break per hour, like a therapist. That's 80 minutes off the clock per day, plus an hour lunch -- more than most faculty give ourselves. I sure don't have 2.33 hours free for every 8 I work.

    What stupid bosses don't get is that left to ourselves, we will work longer hours than 9-5ers. Just not at the office, and not between the hours of 9 and 5.

  12. I am stuck in very much the same situation. Although not "teaching" faculty, I am considered faculty but have a supervisor who swears that I have to be here 9-5, 5 days a week. I am a million times more productive when I am not "chained" to a desk, but this doesn't seem to matter. Like Frog and Toad said, I work more that 40 hours per week, just not at the office and not between 9 and 5!

  13. It's not like this at the CC where I teach, and you're NOT being a snowflake. If this guy's micromanaging, organize all of the unhappy faculty to tell him. If he doesn't listen, go over his head.

  14. The difference between faculty and staff is that our work goes home with us. Given the wide variety of disciplines, students, course formats, and service expectations we experience, I frankly don't see how anyone could work "business hours" and be an academic. Even if there is an expectation of a certain number of hours on campus, 40 is an unrealistic number.

    My college has a new web time entry system that staff use to clock in and out. Faculty use it for reporting leave only, at least for now. But we have been joking about all the clocking in and out we'll be doing from home should they decide to start tracking our hours.


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