Managers fret over telework issues

Concerns over productivity and manager/employee communication impede telework progress.

Agency managers continue to worry that allowing employees to work from home or other off-site locations will lead to lower productivity and other problems, according to several recent surveys. The fears are unfounded, proponents of the practice say. But they emphasize that telework plans must be carefully designed and implemented so employees still have structure when they are not in the office. “To just say, ‘I’m going to let somebody telework,’ and not provide the education behind it is a reason managers express concern,” said Joel Brunson, president of Tandberg Federal. “I would encourage more managers to become teleworkers themselves. You learn a lot.”Tandberg, a developer of videoconferencing equipment, conducted a survey with the Telework Exchange that revealed continued unease about telework among agency managers.Brunson pointed out that telework doesn’t mean employees never go to the office. Many of them work from remote locations only one or two days a week. Market Connections conducted a survey with findings similar to those from the Telework Exchange survey. “We were hoping we would see a little more of an improvement than we did,” said Lisa Dezzutti, president of the research firm. Only  21 percent of employees surveyed said their supervisors encouraged telework. “So much of it is a cultural change,” Dezzutti said. “It’s a comfort issue, and in many cases with senior management, they’re not used to working that way. It is going to continue to evolve over time.”However, there are success stories. Dan Devlin, assistant inspector general for audit at the Treasury Department’s Inspector General for Tax Administration Office, was part of a team that put together the office’s telework policy five years ago. The Office of Audit has about 300 employees.  At any given time, about 200 of them are taking part in the telework program, Devlin said. Under the policy, employees have to apply for permission to telework. They might be granted privileges for one to two days a week, three to five days a week, or on a task-by-task basis. Employees must complete a mandatory training course on how to work from home effectively. Their managers are responsible for giving them well-defined assignments and deadlines. “That was the biggest transition piece,” Devlin said. “A lot of our managers really sharpened their task management skills.”It also helps that the employees are mostly seasoned professionals who do high-caliber work, he added. Part of the application process includes evaluating whether the prospective teleworker has a personality suited to working productively without supervision or office interaction.Still, the program succeeds because it has tight controls, Devlin said. If an employee is allowed to work from home and then doesn’t perform well, “we yank ’em in a minute,” he said. “When employees participate in the program, they sign a contract that stipulates exactly the expectations. It stipulates the frequency and manner in which the employee communicates with the office.”The program was originally intended to mobilize the workforce so personnel could travel to remote Internal Revenue Service offices around the country and work from them. Allowing employees the flexibility to work from home was a side benefit at first. But after the 2001 terrorist attacks, the value of telework for disaster preparedness became clear, he said. Kevin Mahoney, associate director of human capital leadership and merit system accountability at the Office of Personnel Management, said managers who are nervous about telework are basing their worries on misperception rather than reality.“Employees who telework do their jobs well,” Mahoney said. “As a manager, I would have a concern over productivity, but it’s a concern you have to manage through. It wouldn’t prevent me, and I do have a lot of employees who do telework.”An internal survey by the Office of Audit showed that most agency managers reported workers’ productivity and performance increased or, at worst, stayed the same when the employees worked remotely. None reported any decline in productivity, Devlin said.Continuity of operations is one important reason for telework plans, but Mahoney said employee morale and the ability to accommodate family needs are also important.  He encouraged agencies to include telework in their COOP planning. “OPM not too long ago had a series of events where members of the organization teleworked from home for two or three days so we could see what would happen in a pandemic event where people have to stay home and work,” he said. “We encourage agencies to have exercises, because when the emergency happens you’re not going to have time to practice.”

Face to Face With Management Reality

Related Links

































Telework challengesA 2006 teleworking study by research firm Market Connections lists the top challenges for agencies that want to create effective telework programs and the percentage of respondents who view them as challenges:
  • Isolation of teleworkers: 32 percent
  • Management resistance: 45 percent
  • Lack of visibility for teleworking employees: 38 percent
  • Security: 35 percent
  • Information technology service and support: 32 percent
Source: Market Connections
X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.