A group who shares ideas and experiences employing innovative acquisition practices, collaborative methods and use of Web2.0 technologies to transform federal acquisition.
Prediction: Get Ready for Teleworking
February 10, 2010 at 8:19 pm #91914
The biggest danger to the United States government has not been terrorist attacks, but snow.– Paraphrase from Anon on TwitterThe Problem: A Closed Federal Government9/11 didn’t stop the federal government from functioning, but a series of snowstorms have. Weather?! Really, in this day and age, you’d think we’d have conquered it all, but humans haven’tThe Solution: TeleworkingIt costs about $100 million per day to shut down the government, so get ready to see some taxpayer outrage. This is wasted money. So here’s a wild prediction:There is going to be a BIG move to get government workers telecommuting capabilities. (Not so wild after all).To be fair, some government employees can telework, but many (including me) can’t.The Catch: It’s CostlyTeleworking capabilities can also be expensive for those dealing with sensitive information. Classified info can’t be handled on a civlian laptop. Nope. A government issue ($$) laptop with top-notch encryption software ($$$) must be handed out.So get ready for this move acquisition professionals.Thoughts????
February 10, 2010 at 8:28 pm #91930
The last three days have been interesting.
My office put telework agreements in place several years ago, and we built our systems to be accessible through VPN software. As such, when we saw the forecast, every employee was contacted last week and instructed to take their laptop home and told to telework in event of a Government closure. The cost impact for this setup was not significant. It exists for most Federal Agencies already.
Good news story: We have 120 government employees from my office successfully teleworking during the blizzard of 2010. In fact, I’d say that I seen several examples of increased productivity this week, as well as giving people time to finally get to some of those admin tasks (e.g., online training) that most employees neglect in the office.
Bad morale story: Aside from the obvious (no snow days to go sledding with the kids), we do have muddle through potential union issues, special circumstances for individuals without power, internet, etc.
I tried to use “I have to work” as an excuse to get out of shoveling, but the wife doesn’t buy it.
February 10, 2010 at 9:07 pm #91928
Peter G. TuttleParticipant
It’s the wave of the future, whether folks want to adopt it or not. There was an interesting article today in GovExec.com – http://tiny.cc/JK9bu – about telework incentives versus disincentives. It’ll be interesting to see what comes later in regards what work really was accomplished during this time period. As for me, email, cell and VPN are lifesavers, otherwise I’d be “enjoying” lots of unscheduled vacation. Cheers and happy snow shoveling to all the inside-the-beltway gang.
February 10, 2010 at 9:29 pm #91926
This is a great hope! And I’d like to hear what more seasoned (no pun intended!) government personnel have to say.
Chris – We need to hear more stories like yours – agencies like GSA and the Defense Business Transformation Agency where people were not down and, in fact, found higher levels of productivity!
February 11, 2010 at 12:44 am #91924
At GSA, we have technology, infrastructure and capability to telework. And we do – on holidays, on leave days and when the government is closed. (see Chris’ post below). I find that in many cases employees view telework as a personal convenience/benefit when in fact the primary driver should be to continue to support gov operations. If gov is going to invest in the technology and infrastructure, it should be for the benefit of the government more so than for the benefit of the employee. I feel extremely lucky to have the capability and flexibility to work offsite and take advantage of it often. Including when I’m taking leave and am on vacation. At a minimum, those agencies that have the capability could “activate” telework requiring employees to work even when gov is closed. Why not? Those that claim “it’s not fair” shouldn’t also expect to be able to telework only when convenient for them.
February 11, 2010 at 1:59 am #91922
I agree — folks who are able to take advantage of the flexibility provided by telecommuting infrastructure should be expected telework when the gov’t is closed it has been for past three days… but the leaders should make that expectation clear as part of the telework agreement.
I did some preliminary digging to find out what the policy was from OPM and within the Coast Guard. I think the relevant OPM guidance is in the Washington, DC Area Dismissal or Closure Procedures.
In the description of Telework on page 3, it says, “Any requirement that a teleworker continue to work if the agency closes (or dismisses employees early) on his or her teleworkday or on any of his or her regularly scheduled workdays should be included in the employee’s written telework agreement.”
I’ve signed telework agreements for some of the civil servants on my team to telework one day every two weeks, but I don’t remember what, if anything, the agreement said about working when the agency was closed. The expectation should have been clear in the agreement. If I’d done that, it would have removed the “it’s not fair” from the equation.
These past few days have been a wakeup for many of us to ensure teleworking expectations are clarified so the agency can be more effective for… grandson of snowmageddon?
February 11, 2010 at 3:41 am #91920
When I was at DOT during the Papal visit to Nationals park, right next to the headquarters building, in April 2008, we told all of the headquarters staff to stay home but told people to telework; http://fcw.com/articles/2008/06/13/coop-makes-a-telework-connection.aspx.
It worked well as was written up at the time.
Telework is limited as much by culture as it is by security concerns in my opinion.
February 12, 2010 at 6:02 pm #91918
I would suggest that we need to create a telework program that meets a WIN-WIN-WIN standard: Good for the Government. Good for the Employee. Good for the Taxpayer. If the focus is too heavy on one of the three, then we run the risk of everybody losing. Study after study shows a significant correlation between employee satisfaction and employee productivity. Create a telework program that only benefits the government and employee satisfaction and productivity will likely go down… which creates a LOSE-LOSE-LOSE scenario because neither the government nor the taxpayer benefit from decreased productivity.
What’s disheartening is that many agencies seem to base their telework decisions on the lowest common denominator, which is the small percentage of employees who would take advantage of teleworking and be less productive without a manager physically looking over their shoulders. There are many organizations, both public and private, that have overcome these obstacles and created management structures that effectively supervise and monitor remote workers. Why doesn’t the OPM focus on compiling these best practices and then teach the agencies how to implement them? Selling them on the dollars and cents of telework will probably be the easy part. Convincing them that they can effectively implement and manage a robust telework program will probably be the real struggle.
February 15, 2010 at 6:48 pm #91916
I am really impressed with the thoroughness of the comments here.
2) Brandon Jubar‘s comments about acquiring best practices for teleworking is great thing to pursue.
3) Peter Tuttle‘s mention about teleworking being the wave of the future brings up an interesting focus — it requires a culture change in management (i.e. employees working at home can be as productive or close to as productive when they are in the office).
Any more thoughts? Ideas?
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.