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Moving beyond telework: What's next?

Telework is so yesterday. But not in a way you might think.

“Telework, in our eyes, is very passé -- we’ve moved on,” said Anthony Macri, a staff member with the General Services Administration’s Office of Administration’s Workforce Transformation Team.

The focus has now shifted to ways to modernize the workplace and the workforce, as well as figuring out how to reframe the traditional thinking about what might be called management by sight.

“A lot of times I get the question, ‘Well, how do I know employees are productive, how do I know they’re meeting objectives?’ I just turn the question: How do you know now? It’s no different,” said Macri, who participated in an April 16 panel discussion on how to govern beyond the desktop at the Federal Senior Management Conference in Cambridge, Md.

Telework has enabled GSA to double down on efforts to reduce its real estate footprint in the Washington area, by consolidating buildings and making better use of space, Macri said. That shrinkage also means means no private offices for GSA employees.

“Hoteling, in a simple sense, means you don’t own any property in the agency,” he explained. “You don’t have a desk, you don’t have an office. You live in a virtual world with your team. But you do have a landing spot.”

Telework also requires a new way of thinking about management and demands squashing the fear or misconception that off-site employees are less relevant to the organization than those who come into the office, Macri acknowledged.

But when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, performance is the most crucial element around telework. For GSA, that includes eliminating schedules of when employees work remotely.

“We telework where it makes sense,” Macri said. “. . . It’s about trusting your employees to telework where it makes sense.

Posted by Camille Tuutti on Apr 17, 2012 at 12:19 PM

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Reader comments

Wed, Apr 18, 2012

While the scandal around training and travel at GSA is a blow to Federal workforce credibility that the rest of us Feds did not need right now, I don't think it taints everything that comes out of GSA. However, this hoteling concept is not going to work for all employees, just like teleworking is not for everyone. While some staff members thrive on the interactions inherent in the open office, others of us do not. I rarely telework because I am able to focus better at work. I need the quiet of an office (I'm lucky to have gotten out of cubes). I need to have my work where I left it the night before. Having space to collaborate is great for some projects. But to have to pack up every night and try to think and write in a noisy busy open office would send my productivity into the basement.

Wed, Apr 18, 2012

I agree, using GSA as an example of telework isn't a good idea right now in light of recent controversy...

Wed, Apr 18, 2012

"Hoteling" is a poor choice of words, as it turns out for GSA.

Tue, Apr 17, 2012 Sudhir DC

Great article. Telework is no longer about technology. It's a new mindset. Its about letting go of old notions. It's about having a results based trusting relationship with your teams. If done right, it's a win win for everyone .

Tue, Apr 17, 2012

I don't think anyone will be taking any advice on any management subject from GSA.

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