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Eye Opener: Talking telework

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! After four straight snow days, now seems as good a time as any to talk seriously about teleworking options for federal workers.

"About one-third of the D.C. area employees at the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration logged on to their agencies' mainframe computers, probably from their homes," The Post's Joe Davidson writes today. "If the stats for those agencies are indicative of what happened around town, then the blizzard of 2010 may mark a real turning point in Uncle Sam's approach to telework."

"About 103,000 -- or almost 9 percent -- of eligible federal employees telecommuted in 2008, which was an improvement from the year before," according to The Post's Nicole Norfleet.

It's hard to find a fed who disagrees with the concept -- not because it keeps workers away from office politics and the boss, but because they seem to realize it increases their personal productivity.

But as many readers pointed out on Wednesday and in today's Post, the benefit doesn't extend to most contractors and is impractical for workers dealing with sensitive information.

Expanding teleworking seems easy, but in reality will take some time to spread across the government. So what's a good first step?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Chat with John Berry: The director of the Office of Personnel Management takes your questions at 11 a.m. ET. Submit your questions here.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 11, 2010; 8:40 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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Posted by: jacket96 | February 11, 2010 8:42 AM | Report abuse

I am a federal employee and I teleworked everyday while the government was closed. I can attest that everyone in my office also teleworked and we were in contact with each other throughout the closure.

So when OPM reports the cost of lost productivity due to the gov't being closed, do they account for teleworkers who continue to be productive? I doubt it.

Posted by: RunSlow | February 11, 2010 9:25 AM | Report abuse

Your list of potential "first steps" did not include improving our IT infrastructure to allow secure remote access for the greatest number of employees. This is an important problem for my agency, and serves to limit telework and to reduce the productivity of those who telework occasionally. The required investment pales in comparison to the productivity gains it would allow at times like these.

Posted by: Maureen8 | February 11, 2010 9:35 AM | Report abuse

I am surprised the much mentioned $100 million dollars lost per day the government is closed number wasn't thrown about today. I wonder if it because that number seems more and more inaccurate in light of the fact that many employees worked from home.

Regarding telework, in April 2009 OPM announced a new telework plan for the government. Two telework related bills were also introduced in 2009. The idea of expanding telework is not new. It would be nice if the Federal Eye could give some background on previous efforts and where things stand with those bills.

Perhaps this storm will help lend urgency and make implementing already existing telework policy a higher priority for some managers.

Posted by: annapolitangrl | February 11, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

I think if OPM drafted some guidelines on what jobs were conducive to either full time or part time telework, my fellow managers would probably be more flexible. I encourage telework as much as I can, but I have noticed that my more productive employees generally don't telework, and my less productive employees are always pushing for it. I'm not sure what to make of that.

Posted by: signof4 | February 11, 2010 10:46 AM | Report abuse

Establishing federal guidelines should be the 1st step.

There are MANY federal employees like myself who can NOT telework due to the issues that we deal with and their sensitivity. So, I can't telework.

But, to those that still sounds like people are unsure what they can do, when they can, where,, I say start small right now and establish actual/concrete guidelines

Posted by: Bious | February 11, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

There is no need for me to go in tomorrow since we have been off the last 4 days.

What I have to work on can wait another 4 days for my return.

I plan to take unscheduled leave tomorrow.

Posted by: K2007 | February 11, 2010 7:17 PM | Report abuse

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