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Obama talks telework

For someone who regularly works from his home (Oval) Office, President Barack Obama's enthusiasm about telework makes sense.

At a Workplace Flexibility Forum across the street from the White House, on March 31, Obama said the federal government is practicing what it preaches when it comes to instituting telework and offering more options for employees.

“It’s about attracting and retaining top talent in the federal workforce and empowering them to do their jobs, and judging their success by the results that they get,” Obama said.

He then went on to quote Martha Johnson, administrator of the General Services Administration:

“It’s about creating a culture where, as Martha Johnson puts it, ‘Work is what you do, not where you are.’”

John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, and Aneesh Chopra, the federal chief technology officer, are working together to improve ways for feds to work out of the office. Obama said things like regulations won’t stop his administration from pushing telework. His officials will find secure, inexpensive ways to do it and train feds on how to telework. The administration will also learn the private sector's telework efforts.

“In the end, we believe that all of this isn’t just about providing a better work experience for our employees, it’s about providing better, more efficient service for the American people — even in the face of snowstorms and other crises that keep folks from getting to the office,” Obama said.

Hopefully, telework won’t be forced on DC because of several feet of snow. Let employees telework for reasons that don't include shoveling.

Posted by Matthew Weigelt on Apr 01, 2010 at 12:10 PM


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Reader comments

Wed, Apr 6, 2011

I am a Federal Employee for 31 yrs as of April, 2007 and was terminated and reason being was of my inability to maintain a regular work schedule. I had an on the job injury June 21, 2002 and suffered 3 knee surgeries and another one pending in the near future. I had a rotaor cuff surgery of the right shoulder, I receive back and neck injections frequently and is still under medical care. Doctors have told me that my injuries are of permanent nature and I would need reasonable accommodations. The Agency allowed me to work from home full time for three years and then forced me back to work saying either i return or I would be fired from the Federal govt. My doctor did not want me to go in the office and he constantly sent letters saying I could not return to office on a full time status that I need to work from home. I had FEC with OWCP and their reports also stated that I need to work from home. I was retaliated against and discriminated against and then fired. I also had another injury in 2008 and the agency would not allow me reasonable accommodations. In August of 2008, I was terminated.

Tue, Apr 6, 2010

I made it to 30 years before retiring. So on one hand congratulations BUT on the other - I could work longer if Telework actually was practiced as preached. My - and this is difficult to say - problem is mental. I suffer from physical contact with others - especially lots of others. My work would allow me to work at home and have been GRANTED an accommodation to work episodically at home. The difficultly comes from the acceptance of that work at home - I feel guilty every time because of the atmosphere at work. And let me tell you this starts with the top down!!

You should not need to have a mental/physical reason for working at home. On my off (see how I refer to them) days I accomplish a lot more than I would if I forced myself to go in. The Department of Labor is not practicing want it preaches. I think if your work can be accomplished by interaction with a computer TELEWORK SHOULD BE TRIED.

Thank you for giving me the chance to get this off my chest.

Fri, Apr 2, 2010 Brenda Atlanta, GA

The last lines of the article are shocking! Are you kidding? Most of the federal govt has had the tools to accommodate most employees with jobs that can be done outside of the office for YEARS. But, telework has been a "you can if you want to, and if your boss lets you" process to date. Training on the necessary distance collaboration tools is not mandatory, at least not across the board, and managers DO NOT LIKE telework even though it has been the law since 2004, "4 days per week or to the maximum extent possible", so they meet the paper requirements for "allowing" telework by allowing occasional, infrequent "episodic" telework. And, most staff renew the standard forms for episodic telework once year in case there is an emergency, and you need to work from an alternative location. But only "essential personnel" have drills to see if the agency plan works. The public is paying for those distance collaboration tools AND the infrastructure costs for all staff AND administrative leave for thousands of staff (pay with no production) for snow emergencies, etc. I hope the President's influence works, for the sake of efficiency, federal cost savings and fairness to the American people.

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