Personal Transparency: Working Hours – Sep 19 to Jan 20

About the data:

  • This is the first new data-publish in my personal transparency experiment.
  • This data covers my time in work or work-related activities from 23 Sep 19 to 10 Jan 20.
  • This work is logged against four categories:
    • Working in Office (self-explanatory)
    • Working from home or remote location (e.g. train, cafe, home)
    • Self-directed learning (coding, other learning and time spent writing this blog)
    • Formal learning (Civil Service learning or other organised courses)
  • Data published: Date, timestamp, Start/Begin, End/Leave, Category
  • Format: .csv
  • I have corrected the data, mainly to cover for those entries where I logged after the fact (so the ‘timestamp’ on the log is not the actual time that was logged). Plus also a few errors and omissions.

How I gathered the data:

  • I used a simple Google Form, via a shortcut on my phone’s home screen. The form allows immediate logging of the ‘start’ or ‘end’ of an activity, and the category of activity.
  • The form also allows me to note down an alternative time if I am logging after the event rather than at the time the acivity occured. I needed to do this a lot as I very often forgot to log at the time. In general when I logged after the fact I approximated to the nearest 5 mins.
  • Note that I have not logged any ‘travelling time’ (either routine commuting to work, or longer journeys to meetings at other offices). The only exceptions to this are where I have worked on the train, which I have logged as ‘Working from home or remote location’

Learning, insight and follow-up from this exercise:

  • With a simple form in place, it is not a significant effort for me to record this data.
  • It’s vital to log the work as it happens – logging the times after the fact and then correcting the data later is confusing and time-consuming!
  • I will perform some analysis on this data when I have got better at recording it – and have more of it.

Transparency – an experiment

Those of you that know me may have heard me talk about transparency, and how I feel this is important for good public service. I think that civil servants being more transparent about their work could have various potential benefits:

  • Greater accountability
  • Better learning / sharing of best practice
  • Promotes understanding of what civil servants ‘actually do’

Ultimately, the public pay my salary so there’s a reasonable argument they should be able to see what they get for the money.

The experiment

I’ve decided to conduct a personal experiment in transparency and accountability – effectively a form of personal radical transparency. The principal is that I will endeavour to publish as much information about my work as practicable.

The purposes of this experiment are:

  • To examine the value of greater transparency from civil servants – for example, does this give greater insight into what I do, or actively obfuscate that? Which things are useful and which aren’t?
  • To examine the practical considerations around being transparent – what tools / guidance / best practice / rules might help civil servants be more transparent?
  • To identify any other consequencs of transparency – for example, does it affect the way I work and/or the decisions I make, knowing that some of this will be published?

The (initial) ground rules of the experiment are:

  • I can’t give details of anything protectively marked / embargoed.
  • I can’t give details about my work that give away other people’s information (only my own information).
  • I can’t give way details that would otherwise compromise security – for example my personal security.
  • I do not have much time to dedicate to this so it will be on a ‘best endeavours’ basis.
  • Some of this likely won’t work, won’t be practical or won’t be sustainable – hence it is an experiment.

I’ll be adding more information (in this blog’s new “Transparency” category) over the coming weeks and months so stay tuned. Wish me luck!