Telework: Terrific … or Trouble with a capital “T”?

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This topic contains 2 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Henry Brown 8 years, 5 months ago.

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  • #158515

    The debate has been going on probably since the computer was invented, so it might sound like I’m beating a dead horse, but … does telework, well, work?

    Two recent articles from GovExec peaked my interest this week, if only because I find it fascinating that some federal departments and agencies are still struggling with telecommuting. (Or are they?)

    Some say it’s all in the nomenclature. In the article, ‘Telework’ isn’t working, some say, one GSA official explains that getting agencies and federal managers to jump on the telework bandwagon has been difficult in part because the very word makes a lot of people nervous. Changing the name, some argue, might ease the minds of office decision makers.

    But that’s not all!

    Some employees themselves balk at the idea because they often have to shoulder the costs. Feds are paying for some telework technology themselves highlights the results of a study from the Telework Exchange which says that many feds who telecommute often have to foot the bill for equipment or connectivity themselves.

    So, what is an agency or department to do? Should there be government-wide standards for this sort of thing? Should the decision be left up to the office manager? Department head? Are the standards already in place working … or hindering … the federal teleworker?

  • #158519

    Henry Brown


    “A rose is still a rose by any color” Can change the name all you want and I believe that the federal managers who do not want to jump on the bandwagon will still feel that way IMO they believe that it is all about a loss of power.

    For the last 7 years of my federal career, I was a 100% teleworker (well with the exception of one or two weeks a year where we held office meetings) It was rather early in the process that I realized that the savings incurred by teleworking (mileage on my car, commute time, wear and tear on “office uniforms” wait time for ????, would more than make up for the additional cost for technology. (New state of the art smart phones every 2 years, New state of the art computers every 2 years, Truly high speed internet connection which was NOT being shared(thus decreasing the connectivity speed) by others)

    The only issues that can/could be a point of contention was the requirements to maintain the highest level of security on my systems

    And to add sugar to the pile, not once did I have to worry about whether I was using my computer in an approved manner, or whether the phone call being made fell into the category of professional or personal. And because I had specific goals that needed to be accomplished within clearly defined timelines, (Sound likes the next level of teleworking spelled ROWE) nobody worried terribly whether I started work at 3 AM or 9 AM, or whether I took a 2 hour lunch break or forgot to take any breaks at all for 3 days.

    But even working in this enviornment, I was having to spend an awful lot of time explaining to various people in the organization why I was being as productive as other team members without sitting in the cubicle down the hall from them. Again because IMO they did NOT trust me.

    The biggest disadvantage that I saw/have seen is that I was unable to “save” much money by retiring.

    Response to your specific questions

    • government wide standards probably is NOT the way to go Guidelines always work much better.
    • the decision should be a mutual agreement, with the qualifer that any decision reached should be “appealable”and the decision should NOT be based on personality issues.
    • Would offer that the “standards” are in fact working quite well where there is NO opposition to teleworking by management and they aren’t working as well as they could if management is opposed/afraid of teleworking

  • #158517

    Wow! Thanks for sharing your story! I, too, think that trust is one of the biggest issues. You can have all of the tech and security safeguards in the world, but won’t be able to telework successfully if your manager doesn’t believe you are doing your job.

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