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Is Telework a Critical Benefit?

As someone who teleworks full-time and considers it a non-negotiable benefit, it’s a topic near and dear to my heart. Across government it would seem the tide is shifting in favor of telework, yet many employees still find barriers from management perception to lengthy delays in implementation. What about you – is telework a benefit you take advantage of, or that is available?

A decade ago, the idea of telework wasn’t even a consideration for many people, especially workers in the federal government. Presence was seen as a key aspect of employment and productivity, for supervisors as well as employees themselves.

Significant technological advancements and even recent steps forward in the adoption of cloud technology have thrown open the doors to telework opportunities, however, perhaps more so in the government than in other sectors. The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, signed into law in December of 2010, requires federal agencies to establish policies allowing employees to telework to the greatest extent possible, as long as it doesn’t diminish agency operations or employee performance.

While such sweeping legislation might seem to imply that legions of federal employees would be abandoning their cubicles for their home office, it’s not quite that simple. Agency-wide surveys were recently conducted on telework eligibility, and despite the requirement, several federal agencies – including the departments of Justice and Housing and Urban Development – refused to participate.

So there’s far from a warm fuzzy concerning embracing telework.

Those working for private companies may be fairing slightly better, but not necessarily. Outside of tech zones such as Silicon Valley, telework isn’t exactly epidemic. This week the Telework Exchange, a public-private partnership organized to promote the cost-savings and other benefits of telework, is organizing its second-annual telework week, a week to garner pledges from federal employees to telework. This year they’ve obtained 67,000 pledges to telework and tout an estimated $5,347,980 in cost savings from those pledges. Telework Exchange cites both environmental and cost savings benefits. For those in the D.C. area, in particular, eliminating a lengthy commute and the need for expensive office space can pose a significant cost savings…

Read more, and share your thoughts on telework.

Consider joining the Teleworkers and Telework Managers group, here on GovLoop and check out the Telework Calculator, to learn how much money you could save by teleworking.

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Lindy Kyzer

Hey Andrew – yes, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse talking about telework (but it’s the horse to beat right now since it’s Telework Week, right? ;). I think many more people are eligible to telework than some numbers might suggest – even those employees doing secure work in a secure space aren’t doing it 5 days a week, and would be eligible for part-time work-at-home or hoteling situations.

The answer, it might seem, is for more people to “vote with their feet” so to speak and leave places of employment where telework is an option. Top tier employees (the kind the government would like to retain) do have options, even in this economy, and I anticipate over the next couple of years there might be a shift as the demand for flexibility increases. We’ll see! In the meantime, we’ll continue to write posts about why in the heck people aren’t. 😉


We have telework at Social Security–but only one day a week. Something about the union agreement. I used to work for Treasury in the 1990s and worked at home up to three days a week. That was sweet, especially since lived 80 miles from work.

But I do find it ridiculous that management still is holding us back.

Meredith McQuoid-Greason

There is still so much distrust in management when it comes to teleworking. My own supervisor finally succumbed (grudgingly) to allowing staff to telework last year due to pressure from upper management, but with emphasis certainly on *grudgingly*. To date it is currently not set up as a regular occurrance but is allowed on ad hoc basis with prior approval, and then only if the staff person can demonstrate a solid 8 hours of work, which must be completed by the end of the day.

We are not allowed to telework for partial days if we have a doctor appointment in the morning or the afternoon (although the supervisor herself does this all the time). We staff have to either schlep in for the other part of the day or take the full 8 hours as sick leave.

When I’m teleworking, the supervisor sends me emails requesting that I inform her when I’ve completed my tasks. It is quite demeaning (and doesn’t occur when I’m actually at the office). There is an obvious mistrust that makes the entire endeavor distasteful and not really worth the stress.