Readers take on telework

Despite complaints from some, metrics support the idea that telework helps boost productivity.

Videoconference

In a recent FCW article, readers voiced opposition to telework as an effective tool for federal workers.

One reader wrote:

"100,000+ Feds emailing their contractors at all hours to do more work so the Feds look good."

Another said:

"So FEMA employees could save over $2M in transit costs. As long as they buy $4 million in BYOD devices. If telework is playing a large role in retaining existing employee talent, we're all doomed. Last week there was a telework day. Tried to have a teleconference. No luck. Folks 'balancing' their work/life weren't available. Played hooky with no managers checking in on them. The managers were also likely 'balancing' their work/life. Sad. And emerging countries (like China) are more than happy to actually work 6-7 days a week to out-compete us. America needs to learn how to work again. Getting up and coming to work forces discipline and appreciation for compensation. Some may see this as gloomy, but we'd better stop taking our position in the world for granted. We didn't get to be the best just by having more ability to balance work/life. We got to be the best by working our butts off, not by playing hooky and touting it as a positive thing. We are a rich nation and we can afford this for some time, but when the time comes for us to once again really work, we won't remember how. "

Frank Konkel responds:

I disagree that telework equates with lower production. As telework has turned into a viable option for more federal agencies with the emergence of the Telework Enhancement Act, several studies suggest federal employees actually increase productivity when they telework.

While opinions, especially those in middle management, continue to vary about the effectiveness, some federal agencies have managed to implement telework in a fashion that maintains or bolsters productivity among their employees. Not surprisingly, those ahead of the curve also have the metrics to back up these claims. 

Personally, I enjoy coming into the office as often as I can, but I do appreciate that my employer allows telework. As with anything else, I’m certain that some individuals take advantage of their agency’s telework policies in negative ways, but I’m also certain that many people use telework productively, and with the added benefit of an improved work/life balance. The comment that “America needs to learn how to work again” surprises me, given that Americans today work far longer hours than most other nations. We know how to work, and telework has become part of how we work. Is the U.S. government’s approach to telework perfected yet? No, but that is part of the point of events like Telework Week.

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