The Federal Government touts its telework program as being a great benefit to employees. But is it a benefit that people can use? And, if they can’t use it, is it a benefit?
In 2011, Jody Thompson, co-creator of the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE), was a speaker at sessions with HR representatives from the Veterans Administration. Session after session, Jody asked people to raise their hand high in the air if they were eligible to telework. The VA employees proudly raised their hands high in the air. Jody then told them to keep their hands in the air and asked them how many people actually telework. The original 100 hands raised in the air dropped to a handful. This was the case session after session. So, if people can’t telework, I ask again – is it a benefit?
The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) conducted a Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey in 2011. Each federal employee was asked to participate and share their thoughts on their work environment, including work life balance.
In the survey, (http://www.fedview.opm.gov/2011/Reports/Responses.asp?AGY=ALL) respondents were asked to best describe their current teleworking situation. For that specific question, 247, 588 people responded. Of the 247, 588, 20.5% reported that they “do not telework because I did not receive approval to do so, even though I have the kind of job where I can telework.” Over fifty thousand people cannot telework because they are not given permission even though they could do their job at a location other than the office.
So what is holding them (and maybe you) back? The report doesn’t give that information, so we will speculate based on our experience. Implementing a policy does not mean that people will take advantage of the benefit. What holds them back? The culture. Every organization has different nuances, beliefs, and unwritten rules. You have to change the culture to allow the policy to take hold. If you don’t, you will be part of the fifty thousand people who have a “benefit” they cannot access.
To learn more about Results-Only Work Environment, visit gorowe.com
Christy Runningen can be followed on Twitter @ChristyRunn