Time Off to Smell the Flowers

OPM has sent a memo to employees in its Washington, DC headquarters urging them to take an hour of administrative leave (after seeking permission) to walk to the Tidal Basin “to view Washington DC’s magnificent cherry blossoms.”

A memo distributed to employees of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) tells employees of the agency to, in effect, take time to smell the flowers by walking to the tidal basin in Washington, DC “to view the cherry blossoms and start or continue a fit and healthy lifestyle.” To give credit where it is due, the memo was printed in the Federal Times this week.

Whether giving federal employees an hour of time off with pay to walk and smell the flowers around the Tidal Basin of Washington, DC is a good idea depends on the personal philosophy of each individual reader. But, having worked for and around government for longer than I care to admit, there is no doubt that having an agency head telling employees to spend an hour smelling the flowers and to “get fit” by walking to see them is unique within the federal bureaucracy.

Here is the OPM memo sent to employees in the Washington, DC headquarters office.

FEDS GET FIT….Go for your Goal!

The big thaw is over and Spring is in the air. As we continue our campaign to raise awareness and commitment to health and wellness as part of a healthy worklife balance, I want to encourage OPM employees’ efforts to get/stay fit by allowing time off from duty to walk to the Tidal Basin to view Washington DC’s magnificent cherry blossoms.

If workloads permit, from April 1-4 – the peek [sic] blooming period — supervisors may grant up to one hour of administrative leave in addition to the normal lunch period, for TRB [Theodore Roosevelt Building] employees to view the cherry blossoms and start or continue a fit and healthy lifestyle.

Walking Directions (approximate one-way distance is .7 miles):

From the Virginia Avenue Lobby – walk out to Virginia Avenue and take a left
Walk several blocks and turn left onto Constitution Avenue and continue in the direction of the Washington Monument

Cross Constitution Avenue (right turn) in crosswalk at 17th Street and keep walking down 17th Street past the World War II Memorial

The sidewalk next to the World War II Memorial will take you across a bus lane crosswalk

Diagonally cross 17th street in the side walk adjacent to the bus lane crosswalk

Continue across the triangle-shaped median to crosswalk across Independence Avenue

You can go right or left on the Independence Avenue sidewalk – either way will lead to crosswalks across Independence Avenue (again) over to the Tidal Basi

John Berry

Please be advised that there is the possibility of physical injury when participating in any exercise program. To reduce the risk of injury, it is recommended that you consult with your physician before beginning an exercise program. If you have been told by a physician that you have any cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, or metabolic disease such as diabetes, obtain permission from your doctor before beginning or changing your exercise program.

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47