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Telework in Trouble? Why Mandatory Implementation is Needed Now…

Telework Week 2013 is just around the corner. Unfortunately, for federal agencies and taxpayers alike, creating a remote work environment has not arrived fast enough government-wide for all eligible employees.

Therefore, the following questions merit consideration:

1) Can Uncle Sam get a grip on institutionalizing telework for all eligible employees?

2) Would mandatory and uniform numerical goals/standards make a difference for telework compliance at agencies with poor records – not to mention all agencies?

3) Why has it been so problematic, for so long, to make telework business as usual on the grand scale of government?

4) Is telework in trouble, or is it still premature to reach definitive conclusions?

Good Business Sense, Common Sense

This dilemma is perplexing because there is already broad agreement among employment experts and government leaders that telework not only makes business sense but should be maximized.

Good business sense and common sense should be enough to justify mandatory telework implementation government-wide by either Congressional legislation or Executive action. In short, too many agencies have been dragging their feet for too long.

In a prior post, How to Make Telework Actually Work, I recommended several steps to boost the percentage of eligible government employees working remotely on a regular or periodic basis.

Federal agencies have been experimenting with telework for well over a decade now. Nevertheless, successful mass implementation has been fleeting. This shortcoming has occurred despite steady advancements in technology, as well as detailed guidance and prodding by OPM — all of which should make telework implementation easier and faster.

The fact is, however, that too many feds are still stuck in work environments which are neither telework friendly, nor in alignment with the Telework Enhancement Act, OPM guidance, and other Executive Branch initiatives.

Uncle Sam needs to fully adapt to the new virtual workplace before being left behind. Telework is just the start of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.

Will the federal government display enough deftness to change with the times and embrace telework without reservation? Or will technology-driven changes so integral to the 21st century workplace overwhelm old Uncle Sam?

Management Resistance Continues

Despite a persistent push by OPM there are still no uniform goals on the percentage of feds who should be teleworking government-wide on a recurring basis.

Several studies and expert panels have indicated that management resistance to telework continues to be the main obstacle preventing broader implementation.

The bottom line for federal managers should be achieving high employee productivity with steadfast accountability. It should not matter where the actual work gets done as long as the teleworker produces positive results.

Government can no longer operate effectively, efficiently and expeditiously with a Stone Age mentality by managers.

Ask yourself what makes more business sense from a management perspective: having a high performing teleworker or a poorly performing/slacker co-worker with better in-office attendance?

Telework is especially important to feds who are caregivers, people with disabilities, those with long commutes, and those who work independently and/or autonomously — all of which help to advance a healthy work-life balance.

Continuity of government operations during emergency situations is yet another important factor why telework should be greatly expanded across government.

Ditching Cubicle Culture
Of course, not every federal job is conducive to telework, although individual employees may think otherwise. However, there are many positions that do present a good fit, even though management continues to reject and deny telework eligibility to many employees.

High performance telework equates with greater productivity, organizational efficiency and effectiveness. Again, it’s results that matter, results only!

Federal executives, managers and supervisors ought to comprehend that allowing employees to work remotely can result in greater accountability, increased morale, more mission-driven results, and a much needed makeover to attract a new generation of young people to federal service. This takes on even more significance as Uncle Sam confronts a “retirement tsunami” and related “brain drain” to fill critically needed positions.

What Millennials definitely don’t want is to be trapped in a real or perceived bureaucratic cubicle culture with little or no flexibility to get the job done — which is so 20th century. Uncle Sam needs to get with the program ASAP.

Stronger Measures Needed Now

To reiterate, there is already broad consensus about the many benefits of telework. That is not what’s at issue here.

What feds desperately need now are stronger measures to institutionalize telework for all eligible employees, not only the select few who are cherry picked by managers.

In today’s fast paced Information Age it’s critically important for government to avoid playing catch up to the private sector all the time, which has been a familiar and counterproductive pattern.

This is especially true as new innovations and technologies become more readily available and embedded in everyday worklife. But most government agencies don’t even bother to equip teleworkers with the latest cutting-edge IT tools needed to do the job.

For once, it would be nice to be on pace with the private sector instead of always lagging behind.

In an ideal world, government teleworkers should be Skyping and video conferencing on Google+ Hangouts (for example) — without having to purchase and bring their own personal devices to work. BYOD may be a rational short-term solution, but it’s far from a long-term fix.

Again, the future world of work has already arrived.

Govies Need IT Tools for Success

Every teleworker in government should be equipped by their agency with the latest smartphone and tablet technology. This is a wise investment in human capital resources and future productivity to best serve the American people and save taxpayers money over time.

Continuing to ignore the larger issue of mandatory telework government-wide is an unequivocal step backwards at the very time we need to proactively be moving forward. That is, assuming Uncle Sam wants to compete and excel in today’s digital, mobile and virtual work world.

This still remains a questionable proposition based upon lax telework implementation so far.

Also check out:

Work-Life Balance In A Digital/Mobile World

DBG

* All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.

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21 Comments

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Profile Photo Henry Brown

Have been involved with teleworking since last century, and it has always been a massive struggle to convince MOST first and second line managers/supervisors that teleworking is a cost effective way to do business.

I worked for ~10 years for OPM, where I was “forced” to telework because OPM did NOT want to pay for my re-location. And with 3 different “supervisors” I was required to spend at least 5 percent of my time “proving” that I was as productive as the other employees, who sat just down the hall from our supervisors.

There were times, IMO because of upper managements opposition, that although my job description and location did NOT change I was directed to change my time sheets to indicate that I was not teleworking, although the agency paid for my internet access and a portion of my telephone bill…

When It was suggested that perhaps we ought to be issued smart-phones, I was told: A: we can’t afford to issue everyone a smart-phone and B: If I, the supervisor, could do my job without a smartphone why would you need one.

And this is from the agency (OPM) is has pushed teleworking rather hard….

Believe that the only significant teleworking will take place is to cut the facility budget and to “punish” supervisors for not reaching clearly defined goals

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Henry: thanks for your always astute and insightful comments. Good points.

Dannielle: What a shocker (WTF???). Who would have thought that purportedly progressive Yahoo CEO, Marissa Mayer, a mother with a newborn herself, would have done this?

Silicon Valley is aghast. Bad move, bad message, bad policy by Yahoo. The telework ship has already set sail, especially in Silicon Valley of all places!

According to the Huffington Post:

“Yes, there are some jobs that can not be done remotely. But a case by case approach, identifying not only which positions CAN be flexible, but also having managers work with employees on a clear plan of what’s expected from those positions, makes far more sense than a blanket ban. Instead, Yahoo! is cracking down not only on those who work from home full-time, or those who need flexibility because they are parents; everyone is being warned that their lives don’t matter.”

CBS Money Watch reports:

“What having a flexible work-from-home policy does is allow employees to find the right mix. Maybe two days from home and three on-site, with everyone needing to be in the office on Tuesdays. Maybe you come in a little later in the mornings after getting your major work done at home, so you can be available for interaction in the afternoons. The goal is to enjoy the best of both worlds: The turbo-productivity that can come from waking up, grabbing your coffee, powering up your laptop and going to work with no commute, plus the interactions that come sometimes when you’re close by your colleagues.”

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Profile Photo Scott Kearby

I don’t think this is such a cut-and-dried situation. It (telework) may make sense on paper and the imagination, but in the real world things are not always so clear. For the right person and the right task or job responsibilities this can work. When a blanket policy forces it on all, then sometimes the wrong person or the wrong job is teleworked. I think most of us have worked in office with people who are less than productive … so if those people telework, why would that be any better? I personally feel that the local manager (whoever is responsible/accountable for the production) should be the one to decide who teleworks & how much they telework. Yes that will mean some employees are treated differently than others & maybe that can’t work in the public sector …

“In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is. ” Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut

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Profile Photo Terrence Hill

I’m with Scott on this one. I don’t like using the word “mandatory” for anything (except maybe paying taxes), and especially a flexibility like telework. It is not appropriate for every position or person and still needs to be an optional flexibility. Not everyone even wants to telework, so why force the issue? We will always need a percentage of employees who are willing to serve as onsite representatives of the remote workers. Let’s not force the issue here either way.

What are you going to make “mandatory” next? That everyone exercise? Eat only healthy food? Take the bus to work? Have a masters degree? Live in a certain city? Let’s be careful about over-using the “M” word.

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Scott and Terry: excellent points and feedback. Thanks for chiming in on this.
However, I’m thinking more along the lines of a blanket-light policy — call it mandatory minimum. Let me explain…
The policy would only apply to telework eligible employees, not everyone. If a fed is telework eligible but does not like telework then a minimum standard would apply, such as working remotely for only one day per pay period.
At least that way there would be a gov-wide telework infrastructure in place for the eligible folks, based on specific positions, duties, etc. This is important for contingency purposes, if nothing else, if any when gov-wide operations are disrupted or shut down for any number of reasons (weather, natural disasters, terrorism, etc.).

Moreover, a mandatory minimum policy would force reluctant middle managers to finally adapt to telework and managing remote workers. I think this is in management’s best interest because the reality is that the old brick-and-mortar work environments will slowly be replaced to a large extent by the virtual workplace — per digital and mobile technology. I believe that ship has already set sail.
Fed agencies would also save a ton of money by reducing costly building expenses, office space, and big leases. Lastly, per Terry’s point, if in-office attendance is (and has alwaybeen) manadatory, then why shouldn’t remote work be mandatory as well — albeit at a minimum level?
We can ignore or run from the future workplace, but we can’t hide forever. Therefore, incremental implementation of a mandatory minimum policy would make perfect sense.

What do you think?
DBG

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

The Yahoo situation strikes me as an anomaly, especially for Silicon Valley of all places.
I think most folks are reading too much into this by over-focusing on telework without considering Mayer’s other possible larger motivations:

  • showing strong-arm tactics,
  • auditing the workforce and possibly restructuring, and
  • the obvious — obtaining a ton of free media to get her struggling brand back in the news.
    I predict that remote work will soon return to Yahoo, no doubt. I believe CEO Mayer is making a public statement not only to her employees, but to the rest of the high-tech world: there’s a new sherrif in town who is not afraid to shake things up — albeit temporarily.

Let’s also not forget the gender angle:

  • female CEOs are still an overwhelming minority of the high-tech industry in general, and Corporate America and boards in particular.

Thus Mayer needs Yahoo staff, stockholders, the high-tech world, and the public to perceive her as being a strong presence.

This may also be part of a workforce restructuring and re-evaluation at Yahoo — a workforce audit to further streamline operations and cut costs. However, if another one of Mayer’s goals is to draw global media attention to Yahoo and her management of the company thus far, then she has certainly succeeded.
Prior to her arrival, Yahoo was not in the media spotlight compared to Google and other competitors — it was all Google, all the time. That’s certainly changed, for now at least.
By obtaining this global press coverage, Mayer is putting the Yahoo name (as well as her own) back in the news — which may:

  • boost brand recognition,
  • site visitors, and
  • stock prices (perhaps).

You know that saying, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.
DBG

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Profile Photo Kim Ellison

Actually this is not an anomaly. Two other companies, whose memos were not leaked have taken quiet actions reducing telework: Bank of America and Google. Actions like this often precede restructure and redundancy. So many people are concentrating on the telework issue. Yahoo is a company that has had 5 CEOs in 5 years. The leadership has constantly changed. The edict from Mayer is the symptom of a pure strategy and operations initiative meant to take leadership of a company that sorely needs it, not an indictment of working location. Mayer knows more about the state of Yahoo, then anyone else and… well the company is in trouble. Drastic measures are taken in drastic times. If she is successful in righting Yahoo, then most likely telework will return after the core team has been established. Some people will leave, some will be promoted and some will keep their jobs.

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Thanks for the awesome and insightful comments, Kim. I think we are in general agreement on the non-telework side of this story.

But back to the telework angle, two questions:

1) Are you saying that telework continues to be “business as ususal” in Corporate America (per the majority of companies), or do you think telework reduction is a private sector trend (per Yahoo, Google, BoA)?

2) What about specifically in Silicon Valley and the high-tech industry (reduction trend or biz as usual)?

Thanks again for sharing your expertise, Kim.

DBG

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Profile Photo Julie Chase

Thanks David for saying, “Of course, not every federal job is conducive to telework”. As a fed in the semi industrial workforce, we have to stay put. However, we are currently moving forward with wireless capabilities are looking into how we can implement this and still maintain a secure network. Ruggedized tablets are in our future and it is going to be great for our WG workforce.

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Thanks for your comments, Julie. Good to hear from you, as always.

Just to reiterate, many federal jobs may in fact NOT be well suited for remote work. That’s not what’s at issue here. Management and HR folks must make that determination based upon individual positions, job descriptions and work requirements.

My point is that feds who are deemed “telework eligible” now need to move to the next level of being “telework ready” and then transition to actually working remotely at least on a minimum basis.

All eligible feds should have the process in the place to allow them to work remotely, whether it’s for a couple of days per week or only a couple of days per month. This includes having signed telework agreements and the appropriate IT tools in place.

Moreover, I strongly believe there needs to be a mandatory minimum telework policy in place gov-wide under which every eligible teleworker must work remotely at least one-day per pay period. Why?

Because Congressional legislation hasn’t worked, per the Telework Enhancement Act. OPM prodding and guidance hasn’t worked. Thus it’s time for more stringent measures in order to hold agencies feet to the fire. Perhaps a Presidential Executive Order is warranted.

This is the only way to build and maintain a solid telework infrastructure gov-wide. Additionally, as noted, it’s integral to federal gov continuity of operations to have such a telework infrastructure in place to the largest extent possible. Eligible feds need to be ready, willing and able to work remotely when emergencies cause gov-wide shutdowns for various reasons.

In short, all federal agencies need to adopt the latest IT tools and move forward into the 21st century, rather than backwards to yesteryear. In my opinion, this is a “no-brainer” – especially considering how slow and resistant so many agencies have been to embrace remote work for well over a decade now.

Again, great to hear from you, Julie, and good luck with everything on your end.

DBG

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Profile Photo Dr. Phuong Le Callaway, PhD

My personal story via LinkedIn–sharing with you!
“Thanks for all the posts and the various views on telework. This telework is a sensitive subject. I live in a different state and work in Virginia. In my case, my family moved in 2012. I have tried to request for telework at my new state but it was denied, but the telework (just two days a week) at my former residence state (MD) was authorized.

I fly back home on a monthly basis and I am required to request to work on those days at my new residence each time.

Telework in Maryland is permanently approved but on a case-by-case basis from my home. Does it make sense to you? It has been going on for more than a year now and the emotional, physical, and the financial aspects have been negatively impacted. Yes, moving away from my current work location is my family and personal decision but agency can help accommodate a high performing employee if the agency’s policy on telework is strong.

In general, I will say this and I agree with some of the posts that the resistance is on the immediate managers or supervisors.

There are three main reasons why telework has not been fully embraced: 1) managers feel a sense of isolation, 2) managers do not want to loose certain employees to other opportunities, and 3) managers do not want to change the “managerial” way they feel comfortable with.

In my case, I was assigned a critical function and new expected ongoing tasks by my immediate supervisor despite the fact that I have moved and this critical function and those new expected tasks that are currently performed by another person has made my telework from my new residence impossible.

These new, expected tasks require me to be physical present. To get back to the issue of telework for its implementation to be successful, agency must make it mandatory. Performance management must be changed to measure critical duties so teleworkers are aware what they will be measured on. If employees fail in performance while teleworking and if performance is not improved, telework can be temporarily banned. It is simple.

Managers must have a telework mindset ready or the initiative will fail. Managers should be trained and educated about the pros and cons of telework program. Some positions may not be performed via telework full-time but telework schedules can vary to help employees balance work and family life. Consistency in implementation is required.

In conclusion, managers and supervisors’ attitude toward telework is a huge barrier to this Federal initiative. Managers can make or break the agency. They don’t feel comfortable with change but change is inevitable in the new global economy, the technological society, and the Federal workforce restructuring. In my personal case, it is a sad thing!”

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Profile Photo Tracey Harriot

I’m one of the oddballs that does not want to telework. There are two reasons why I’ve been avoiding it as my agency moves towards it. (We are authorized to telework 50% of the pay period.)
First – I do not work well at home. I never have. When completing my undergraduate and graduate degrees, I would leave my house to get homework done. In some cases I was driving almost 30 minutes to get to the campus library just to avoid being distracted at home. I’ll admit – I’m very easily distracted at home. I would be a terrible teleworker, so why force me to do it if I’m actually more efficient in my cubicle? I suppose there wouldn’t be too much harm done if I were only forced to telework one day, as David has suggested as a minimum, but I still feel that it would be slightly detrimental. (Ok, ok, with that said – I know that someday I’ll have to learn to like telework, but I’m holding out as long as I can.)
Second – I don’t think it’s appropriate for my job series to telework as often as we have been authorized. Many will disagree with me, and perhaps my opinion is biased due to my aversion of telework, but contracting involves a lot of interaction in the workplace. A simple action can require input from upwards of 5 or so people and can get bottlenecked when the applicable players are not immediately available. Not to mention, we are not anywhere near working in a paperless environment, so this further complicates the process.
The second point will undoubtedly get better as technology catches up. As telework is the current buzzword, I’ve found that people are teleworking without the necessary equipment and support. As an example, some people do not even have a printer at home. Since we do not utilize digital signatures, I’m a bit confused or concerned by this. Some are teleworking only armed with their blackberry. David addressed this a bit in describing the move from “telework eligible” to actually teleworking, but it seems as though some agencies have skipped right to telework so that they can check off a box.
Just my 2 cents… 🙂

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

FYI — WorldatWork to Celebrate Telework Week 2013 with Tweet Chat March 6 — Guests Include USDA and Mobile Work Exchange

“WorldatWork, a nonprofit human resources association focused on compensation, benefits and work-life, is pleased to celebrate Telework Week 2013 by hosting a Tweet chat Wednesday on March 6 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. EST using #telework. Rose Stanley, @WorldatWork_RS, work-life practice leader for WorldatWork, will moderate the chat with guests Cindy Auten, @CindyMWE, general manager, Mobile Work Exchange, the lead sponsor of Telework Week 2013, and the award-winning Mika J. Cross, @USDA work/life and wellness program manager, Office for Human Resources Management, United States Department of Agriculture. USDA’s Turbo-Charge Telework program was recently honored with an Innovative Excellence Award from WorldatWork’s Alliance for Work-Life Progress (AWLP). Cross was also recognized as an AWLP “Rising Star” for her role in implementing this program.”

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Tracey: Thanks for the insightful comments.

It’s always helpful to hear from folks with a diverse range of viewpoints and experiences. I certainly would not consider you an “odd ball” because you don’t like telework. Remote work is not for everyone. However, as you noted:

“I suppose there wouldn’t be too much harm done if I were only forced to telework one day” (per pay period, as I suggested as a mandatory minimum).

It’s good you feel that way, Tracey, because all eligible teleworkers should at least have their IT infrastructure in place, be trained and know how to work remotely if and when needed — especially during emergency situations as part of contingency planning. This is very important for the continuity of operations gov-wide during mass shutdowns.

You make an excellent point, Tracey, that agencies must equip employees with the tools and IT infrastructure to successfully work remotely. Otherwise, the proposition is be self-defeating. This is a step-by-step process. No agency should ignore or skip over any of the steps for staff to transition from “telework eligible” status, to “telework ready” status, to actually working remotely in a productive fashion.

Successful telework involves more than a BlackBerry. At a minimum, each teleworker needs to be connected to their agency’s VPN IT system to have immediate remote access to their personal desktop computer, just as if they were sitting in their official work station within their agency.

Thanks again, Tracey, for your comments. Again, remote work is not for everyone.

DBG

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Phuong: Thanks so much for sharing your story here and in the LinkedIn discussion.

It’s very unfortunate to hear that you are facing so many roadblocks to successful telework.That’s a real shame. First- and mid-level managers need to understand that blocking telework for eligible, talented and productive employees — or making the process extra difficult — is a lose-lose situation.

This is because the prospective teleworker will only end up frustrated and upset — which may lead to a drop in personal morale, attendance and productivity, plus complications with personal and family issues outside of the office (which also may negatively impact job performance). This is not how good management attains and retains talented staff — paticularly the younger generation of Millennials. To the contrary, it’s how agencies lose talented people.

I think you “hit the nail on the head” per your astute observation:

“There are three main reasons why telework has not been fully embraced: 1) managers feel a sense of isolation, 2) managers do not want to loose certain employees to other opportunities, and 3) managers do not want to change the “managerial” way they feel comfortable with.”

Management resistance is a primary reason why mandatory telework policies are needed gov-wide, albeit with a minimal level of remote work for those who prefer the office environment. It seems that some managers will only get-with-the-program if compelled to do so by their agencies per a mandate from the top.

Eligible employees who desire telework must understand that it is a privilege, not a right. I’ve observed situations where a teleworker was unreachable and unaccountable. The result: no more telework for that individual — plain and simple.

If you abuse it, you lose it!

Mandatory management training and leadership from agency heads are both integral aspects of any successful telework program.

I wish you the best of luck with your personal situation, Phuong, and hope it improves.

DBG

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

The Huffington Post reports:

Why Working In The Office Is Bad For You

“…But what’s most remarkable of all is the research that says having workers stay late isn’t just unhealthy for the workers, it’s also not such a great thing for the company either. A Harvard Business school professor and researcher found that all those extra hours spent connected to the office don’t actually improve worker productivity. Rather it’s the opposite. Worker productivity actually improves if the worker is allowed to have a life outside the office, found Leslie Perlow, author of Sleeping With Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work. Perlow says we are trapped in a “cycle of responsiveness where we believe that every email, every text, must be answered at that very moment. That doesn’t prioritize the work but rather treats everything with equal weight and importance. When teams of workers agreed to disconnect during certain hours, Perlow found, they were not only more satisfied with their jobs and more likely to want to stay working there, but the company’s clients reported that nothing fell through the cracks.”

“Some new research has shown that all those cool benefits — originally intended to lure and keep workers — have blurred the boundary between work and personal life and contributed to a stress-inducing environment for those they were intended to woo. Those work freebies become “psychologically problematic,” said Nancy Rothbard, an associate professor of management at Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, when they encourage employees to make “their work life their entire life.” And that’s what’s happening, she said. By providing free yoga and aerobics classes, in-place swimming pools, employee lounges with pool tables, dart boards and ping-pong and on-site hair and nail salons, offices have been turned into corporate cocoons. Everything is made so convenient, and it’s so much fun to be there, that you never want to leave.

“And that’s precisely the problem with the perks, believes David Lewin, professor of management at UCLA Anderson School of Management: “Employees stay on the work campus for 12 to 18 hours a day — and even if they are only working 10 of those hours…”

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Profile Photo Dr. Phuong Le Callaway, PhD

David: Thank you so much for your empathy of my personal situations. I hope the situations will improve. I do agree that teleworking is the priviledge and not a right. It can be given and it can be taken away if employees abuse it. Telework is not for everyone but when the employees are considered “telework ready”, they will enjoy it as they can perform much more efficiently with less distractions. Performance results count so it does not matter where the actual office location may be. The needs of both employers and employees must be satisfied for an effective telework program. I know the Telework Enhancement Act (2010) has helped improve work and family life for many Federal employees and helped reduce operating costs for both employers and employees. I am more than ready and waiting for a miracle. I have not seen it but I have the faith.

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Profile Photo Brandi R. Bernal

In my opinion, the biggest challenge faced by dedicated teleworkers is the ability to demonstrate potential for career advancement to management. Does a manager really get a good sense of an employees’s ability to lead and/or be promoted simply by reviewing production numbers or intermittent webinar meetings? My thought is no. Also, if an employee is permanently sent home to work on their projects, how much exposure does that employee get to other ideas, points of view, etc? If the point of telework is to avoid interruptions and work, work, work… how long does that last? How long is a human being, social by nature, expected to work alone in their home? Some of my best ideas have come from the “interruptions” from co-workers. I have teleworked in the past and clearly, I am not a fan. When I come to my cubicle, I’m happy because my cubicle neighbors are my team. We work together, we share ideas face to face, we take a look at eachother’s projects and provide opinions, we get to know eachother. I say hello to executives as I walk down the hall. I network with other areas in my agency and observe what future opportunities may lie ahead. Management can see I am more than a production number or a face on a computer. I am a dynamic individual with potential for much more than production. Should telework be an option to all employees for those days where it just makes sense? Sure. But to expect this to be the future of employment is something I personally do not look forward to.

And as a side note- the picture in the article of the woman teleworking with 4 children next to her is extremely disconnected from reality. If you think middle-aged cubicle neighbors interrupt your work too much, try an 8 year old!

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Profile Photo David B. Grinberg

Thanks for your astute and insightful comments, Brandi. You raise many valid points.

However, the fact is that the work world is undergoing a radical transformation from brick-and-mortar to virtual/mobile/digital in both the public and private sectors. Some may not like it, but we will all eventually have to adapt regardless.

This virtual/digital/mobile workplace transformation is akin to how the Industrial Revolution reinvented work processes, procedures, jobs and skill sets about a century ago – and, ultimately, for the better.

Insofar as government is concerned, all employees deemed “telework eligible” or “telework ready” by management should know how to work remotely for contingency purposes — if nothing else — like during government shutdowns due to severe weather or worse.

Managers and co-workers alike must embrace new methods of communicating and collaborating. Embracing radical change is never easy, especially in a mammoth bureaucracy. Nonetheless, change is a certainty.

Yes, we can run from the fast-evolving digital/mobile/virtual work world, but we can’t hide forever.

This is not to say that all employees should work remotely all the time. Yet employers and employees should try to strike a reasonable balance — on an individualized basis – to begin incorporating remote work into their schedules at least on an incremental basis. That may merely equate to once biweekly or once a month.

Is that too much to ask for adapting to a “brave new world” of 21st century work modernization?

I certainly hope not for the sake of America’s ability to compete and win in the new global high-tech economy.

Thanks for considering this, Brandi.

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