Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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About that telework thing

The Office of Personnel Management dutifully reported this week that “nearly all” agencies had complied with the first deadline of June 7 laid out in the Telework Enhancement Act, that is, to figure out if you can telework — and to tell you so in writing.

At the same time, a survey by the Telework Exchange seemed to indicate that about 84 percent of agencies had determined the eligibility of employees (OK, that’s reasonably close to “nearly all”), and that 76 percent (generally understood to be less than “nearly all”) of agencies had notified all employees of eligibility.

That means that if the survey is reasonably accurate, roughly three out of four feds have been told if they are eligible to telework.

So, unless you work at one of those agencies that OPM Deputy Chief of Staff Justin Johnson said might “go through the cracks” regarding the June 7 deadline, you probably already know if you are eligible.

Of course, knowing about your eligibility to telework and actually being able to do it are two different things. Agencies still have to put the finishing touches on their telework policies, train everyone involved (including your boss), make sure technical support is in place, and so on.

So it could be a while.

At the same time, it will interesting to see how it all plays out — to watch what happens when teleworker wannabes finally have the chance to do it, to observe how management handles it, and to add up how much money it actually saves when broadly implemented.

But what might be most interesting is to see what the folks who have been hammering federal employees do and say once all these telework arrangements are up and running. Reading down a list of the benefits of telework (less time missed, savings on travel expenses, better continuity of operations, etc.), telework would seem to be a budget cutter’s dream.

But from what we’ve seen from these anti-fed types over the course of the last year, something tells us to wait and see.

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Jun 10, 2011 at 12:13 PM


Reader comments

Thu, May 3, 2012 Mary

Wow, such negative comments for teleworking. If I have a chance to telework, I do it. I am much more productive, and can focus. Although some divisions in our respective agencies are service-oriented, or in customer service, and teleworking would obviously not fit here, there are other divisions who are research- or management-based and need focus without the numerous unscheduled drop-ins that can constantly interrupt the workflow. And what practical person really thinks that "8 hours in the office equals 8 hours of work"? Those persons that are "working 8 hours" in the office often find their way to my building to "shoot the bull" so to speak - not working! Teleworking is not "one-size-fits-all", but if it works well for some, why not have that option? I know I am glad I do. Many a deadline would not have been met if it were not for the quiet time I have when I telework.

Tue, Jul 26, 2011 kmc DC

In our agency, we are being told if you are on AWS you are not allowed to telecommute. If you are on straight 8s you are allowed 2 days per pay period. Originally, the policy was to be that AWS employees could telecommute one day per pay period. How are other agencies handling telecommuting with AWS folks?

Fri, Jul 15, 2011 Mike

Pros: It's ok during a contingency. Cons: Employees won't use as much annual leave. They'll compile it for selling back to the Govt. upon retirement. Cons: Civ timesheets reflect 8 hrs. of work per day. How can this be verified through telework? Don't tell me it's based on their production (horse *** . Cons: As stated elsewhere-IT issues. CAC readers, digitally signed & encrypted messages: electronic routing of files, etc. Cons: Home PC vulnerabilities; network accessibility? Secure Web-Based applications inaccessible? Cons: Resentment of teleworkers amongst those who are not allowed to telework. Cons: Likely many more... I'll believe test/survey results when I see them and validate their particular situation.

Mon, Jun 20, 2011

I was also told that I couldn't telework, which I completely understand. In fact nobody in my office does. The work that my office does is based soley the a Military member's SSN adn full name. It is VERY difficult to ensure that this type of data is not somewhere where it shouldn't be, for example a home computer. Even if the government gave us all the proper equipment it wouldn't be worth to cost to the government. I really don't mind coming into the office every day. It gets me out of the house environment, especially if you have younger children.

Mon, Jun 20, 2011 chelle928 New Mexico

Did you ever happen to think that some jobs may need to be at the office due to the type of work that is done? Customer service is our number one priority whether it is to the actual public or our co-workers. If we are unable to answer questions because our information is sitting in an office in a file drawer, what work are we really getting done? And as for not allowing telework by some supervisors - maybe those supervisors know that particular employees will not be productive while working at home therefore if one is not allowed to telework, all of them cannot (fair is fair and this shows no favoritism as well). I am an excellent worker (and my past performance awards agree with that), but I also know myself well enough to know that I need to be in a structured environment away from home. That is not something my supervisor would know unless I told that person. You have to consider if from all angles really.

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