Jobs of the Future: Work When and Wherever You Feel Like ItS

A Minnesota government office is letting its employees do pretty much whatever they want, as long as they get their work done on time. Sounds like a dream! But not everyone is into the idea.

The Hennepin County Department of Human Services and Public Health since last year has been operating in a "results-only work environment" — meaning employees can work from home most of the time — as part of a campaign to reduce rush hour traffic around Minneapolis. Supervisor Ann Zager tells NPR:

"At first it was really hard for them," she says. "They would come to me and say, 'Ann, I need to take off next week, or I need to do this.'" Zager would remind them that if they were not scheduled to be in the office, they did not owe her any explanation.

"It was hard for them to believe I really don't care!" she says.

Some of the olds aren't buying it:

"I didn't like it at all because I feel we're accountable to the taxpayer," says Bob Brinkhouse, a child-support officer who's been with the county for 17 years. He admits he's "old-school," and felt that "someone should know where we're at during our eight hours a day."

They're also preparing for workplace sniping by acting out mock office beef:

"Tina, let's talk about Tammy," [trainer Ashley Everett] says. "Oh my gosh. Tammy only shows up at maybe 10 o'clock during the day. I mean, geez, does she ever work?"

Taking her cue, Tina shakes her head, "No, not really." The others erupt in peals of laughter as they recognize such routine office gossip. But Everett says in a results-only system, for all they know Tina was up until midnight finishing a company report."