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How telework improves employee accountability

The oft-cited concern that teleworkers have no accountability is dead wrong, says one reader.

The reader was responding to a debate topic posted as part of the FCW Challenge, a joint FCW-GovLoop project to spark debate about key topics in the federal IT community.

Here was thesis we put out for discussion: “If you take the Results Only Work Environment (ROWE) directive to its logical conclusion, every government employee should be able to work from anywhere, including home, but also the road. But agency managers will never give up their need for command and control.”

But agencies have no cause for concern, writes John Smith.

We have over 2500-3000 teleworkers a day. We can provide more accountability for teleworkers than ANY manager can for a worker in a cubicle. This idea that they need to have control is absurd. How often do managers actually make sure their users are at their desks and working all day? Do they honestly spend all day policing their halls? The logging and accountability of a sound teleworking system will tell you when the users connect, if they worked or did not work and is considerably more accountable than seeing an employee walk through the door then, for all they know, play solitare all day. Ultimately, is the work getting done or is the work not getting done? Are you getting your 40 hours or not? Today's teleworking systems can provide that data.

What do you think? Check out the conversation here.

You can also read more about the FCW Challenge here.

Here are the other topics up for debate:

Government social networks are Towers of Babel, doomed to topple.

The Open-Government Plan is Vaporware 2.0.

Acquisition 2.0 will give ethics officers the heebie-jeebies.

A mandate for the cloud is wishing for pie in the sky.

Cybersecurity: This is a job for McGruff the Crime Dog.

Posted on May 07, 2010 at 12:18 PM


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Reader comments

Thu, Jun 10, 2010

I often think that my project would have about twice as much done if I could occasionally work at home, let my guard down and grind out the code. From the commute, to office chit chat, to the dressing up and working quietly (amongst 20 other people on phones), to interruptions... there's a million energy drains in the office. But it's not right for every job or person. Of course, if the work is their concern, and they do better/more work at home... then isn't that better for everyone? It's not as if anything is gained by making sure they sit still in a cubicle for 8 hours just to keep the chair warm.

Tue, May 11, 2010

I believe that all employees should come to work and be held accountable for their work. Teleworking has become a way of frauding the government and not being held accountable for normal working hours. The goverment is already providing smart trip benefits for employees to come to work and I think it is unfair that all employees can not telework. Whats good the the goose is good for the gander. Teleworking has been taken out of content and believe me it is being misused. What is wrong with the government? We have lost our concepts for customer service.

Tue, May 11, 2010 Warren, MI

I have 29 years with the DoD and have heard talk about this for at least half that time. There is now a much stronger argument in favor of tele-work than there was even 5 years ago. Automated accessiblility, security and reliability have improved significantly in recent years. As a result the old arguments against tele-working don't apply. As a matter of fact much of my work in my cubicle/office could already be considered "Tele-work" in the form of tele-conferences and video-conferences with other team members. As a supervisor I do still have the concern about performance distractions if I was consitently working from home.

Mon, May 10, 2010 RayW

I have known several teleworkers over the years, some were very good, and some programmed ways around 'Big Brother'. I would not say that teleworkers are more accountable by the 'monitoring' since the same monitoring plus some is performed at the workplace. What it boils down to is - how much does the worker get done and how well done is it, and not how many minutes he is logged in and how many bytes flow down the 'tubes'. And depending on what you want out of a job, just remember, teleworking is the same as being off in another building, out of sight....out of mind when it comes to evaluations and promotions.

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