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Why do federal managers oppose telework?

Let’s see if we can get to the bottom of this: Why is it that federal managers are so opposed to telework?

Without a doubt, many are. Every time we publish a story related to telework, we hear from readers whose agencies supposedly bless the idea but whose managers quash it.

“Some Federal Aviation Administration managers have told their employees don't even ask for teleworking,” writes one reader. “At this point, the employees never put in a request to telework because it might upset their manager and start a pattern of retaliation.”


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The reader was responding to a report that employee satisfaction with telework policies has actually dropped in recent years, despite a big push by the Office of Personnel Management to make telework more widely available in the federal government.

Less than 10 percent of the 247,268 feds surveyed said they telework at least one day per week. Twenty-three percent of those respondents said they didn’t telework because they weren’t allowed to, despite having jobs amenable to teleworking.

“The U.S. Forest Service states that it promotes telecommuting. The region in which I work is against telecommuting,” writes JG. “Guess who wins out?”

Many readers say it is a matter of trust: Managers often do not trust their employees enough to let them work sight unseen on a regular basis.

Others say the deeper cause is a lack of management know-how: Some supervisors simply do not know how to assess the performance of employees beyond taking roll call. Or they cannot communicate effectively with employees through phone calls and e-mail.

We would like to hear from the managers on this one. Here are a few questions to consider:

* To what extent does telework hamper your ability to manage the performance of employees?
* Does telework make it more difficult for employees to stay in regular contact with you and their co-workers?
* Do security policies make it impractical to allow employees to work from home?
* What are the other factors that go into deciding who, if anyone, can telework?

Posted by John Stein Monroe on Jul 15, 2010 at 12:18 PM


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