Federal government solicits telework feedback

Current telework roadblocks are the same obstacles we’ve heard about in the past

Although telework participation is slowly increasing among federal employees, many of the current roadblocks are the same obstacles we’ve heard about in the past.

The federal government has long worked to increase the number of employees who telework, using all kinds of tactics, including grass-roots efforts and legislation, to increase participation in telework programs.

Telework and national broadband

This month the government has been soliciting feedback from employees who telework or want to telework. Many of the comments suggest that although telework participation is slowly increasing among federal employees, many of the current roadblocks are the same obstacles we’ve heard about in the past. While technology hurdles were listed among potential telework barriers, management opposition seems to be the most common roadblock.

“Only about 30% of our employees are eligible to telework, mostly because our employees are required to work on-site. Of those who are eligible to telework, management still passively resists allowing telework,” writes one employee from the Department of Homeland Security. “Sometimes this is a well-intentioned effort to ensure equity with those who are ineligible. Sometimes this is because managers feel a need to have employees available at a moments notice. Other times, supervisors don't trust employees to be productive.”

One anonymous poster wants to see something done about management’s opposition: “Encouragement, guidance and talk do not overcome ‘old school’ opposition. If one is telework eligible, mandate that mgt accept a telework agreement (and then hold us accountable for our work). I would merely like the opportunity.”

Another employee stressed the importance of using telework as part of continuity of operations plans:

“If a true health emergency (or worse) occurs, the real way to know an office can still produce is to have a good plan, like telework, in place and used on a regular basis. No one can expect to just start the telework plan in an emergency and have it run flawlessly. Start the program, use it with those employees who can earn/prove they can work unseen and use it continuously,” comments an employee at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The blog, which is accepting comments through the end of the day today, was organized by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, in partnership with the General Services Administration and the White House Work Group on Telework. The purpose was to invite federal employees to share their experiences with teleworking, offer solutions for expanding telework in the federal government, and rate others’ suggested solutions.

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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