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Beyond telework: How the federal workplace ought to work

Federal managers need to stop worrying about where their employees are working and start focusing on what work is getting done.

That’s the basic message of an article we recently posted by Deloitte’s Anne Weisberg and William D. Eggers. Their article is part of the FCW Challenge, a joint FCW-GovLoop project to spark debate about key topics in the federal IT community.

To start the debate on workforce, we put forward this intentionally provocative thesis: “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 from the road. But agency managers will never give up their need for command and control.”

But Weisberg and Eggers say that change is possible—and necessary.

They say they know it is possible, because thousands of federal employees already telework, as was most apparent when the Washington metropolitan area was paralyzed by blizzards earlier this year. For days on end, federal managers couldn’t worry about where their employees were. They only cared that the work was getting done.

Ultimately, however, that mind-set is less about accommodating employees and more about setting higher expectations.

“Once you think of work this way, then it’s easy to see how managers and their teams need to be more explicit and transparent about performance expectations, and more coordinated about how to meet those expectations.” Weisberg and Eggers write. “’Management by walking around’ is replaced by managing to results – and giving the team a lot of say in how they achieve those outcomes. Organizations that embrace this way of working have more engaged workers and achieve greater results.”

What do you think? Read the rest of the article (“Workplace flexibility as the new normal”) and post a comment. We will publish the article and the best responses in the June 14 of Federal Computer Week.

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 14, 2010 at 12:18 PM


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