Your agency may be warming up to the idea of teleworking, but there are some things to consider before making it happen.
Assuming that your position is eligible for telework, you’ll need to enter into a written telework agreement with your manager. That agreement will touch on a range of issues, including one that can derail your telework plans if it isn’t adequately addressed: technology.
The General Services Administration (GSA) offers guidelines for the equipment and support an agency may provide for teleworkers. If you are in charge of providing your own teleworking equipment, make sure you choose reliable tech. It is important to consider the technology needs based on what your work entails, agency security requirements and budget constraints. You want to make sure that all equipment and technology have been tested and that you are comfortable working remotely. Some capabilities you may need include:
You want to be able to maintain real-time communication with your coworkers back in the office. Part of that includes making sure you and your manager agree on what technology will be used to maintain contact. Whether you will need something from them or vice versa, you are still responsible for making yourself accessible if someone needs to reach you.
Your manager may also want to know how you’re doing and require updates throughout the day. You may have to attend meetings or join in on phone calls via online web chat, so make sure you have a working and reliable internet connection. Also, know who you can turn to if something goes awry and you need technical assistance.
Some important communication tech includes:
- Access to shared digital drives, databases and computer programs that can be accessed from multiple locations or computers. This will allow you to update your work and share it with other coworkers.
- Instant messaging tools such as Slack and Google Chat for quick, efficient dialogue between you and your coworkers. If you don’t have one already, you may want to invest in a mobile phone that has access to internet, allowing you to use it as a hotspot if necessary. You also want to have remote access to email, whether on your phone or on an external digital server.
- The ability to create and use digital signatures in writing and PDF applications. This may or may not apply to your agency.
When you are working remotely, you want to consider how you are safeguarding information and data. It is your responsibility to make sure data and other information remains secure. Some of the steps you will need to take in order to ensure this include:
- Security Training. The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires all employees to go through telework training. Make sure you know your agency’s information security policies by participating in information security training and following security protocols for remote connectivity. IT security training is mandatory for ensuring that work-related information stays safe and protected. During training, you will learn how to follow security standards specific to your agency. For example, you will learn what measures to take if your internet stops working or any equipment is lost or stolen.
- Equipment Inventory. Find out what type of tech your agency requires in order to protect information. Depending on the sensitivity of information, you may need to have locked file cabinets or other physically secure sites. When you enter into a signed, written telework agreement, an equipment inventory should be included to help you figure out what equipment your agency provides and what equipment you will need to have on your own.
With a dispersed workforce, it is important to maintain secure and real-time connection and communication with everyone. Technology is that enabler. But before you make plans to work from anywhere, make sure that you address these key issues to ensure teleworking is a success.