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Would you telework if you could?

By Ed O'Keefe

As a blizzard bears down on the Washington region and the federal government remains closed for a third day, it's worth asking again:

Does your federal office encourage telework? What would be the effect on the workforce and productivity if the federal government allowed more telework?

Send your extended answers to with your name, hometown and agency of employment. We may use your answers in Thursday's Washington Post.

If you prefer to vent in a less detailed fashion, then leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

By Ed O'Keefe  | February 10, 2010; 8:58 AM ET
Categories:  What Would You Do?, Workplace Issues  
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My agency prepared for the Swine Flu pandemic by engaging in three "pandemic exercises" where half of the workforce stayed home(actually, a co-worker got the pandemic during the pandemic exercise - talk about dedication!). Therefore, the entire workforce has remote capability.

If agencies begin by lifecycling laptops in place of desktops, then invest in their remote capabilities, then I think teleworking will see a bigger presence.

Most importantly, teleworking can greatly reduce the traffic issue in this area. What if, on every Code Orange air day, the federal government mandated telework for all who could; wow, what a difference.

Posted by: whitneyuevans | February 10, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

I've been flexiplacing all this week so far. My agency is now offering Occupational flexiplace. Here you can flex 4 days a week. Eventually folks who occupational flexiplace will get printers to take home. I wish there was a way now to use my own printer at home to print from my work laptop.

Posted by: rusty6 | February 10, 2010 10:21 AM | Report abuse

It's a non-question for me because I can not bring my work home. I just can't due to sensitivity issues.

I wish i could but understand why I can't

Posted by: Bious | February 10, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Agree with Bious. Many of us work in environments whose sensitive nature means that teleworking is absolutely not an option. Too bad, but that's the way it is.

Posted by: jacket96 | February 10, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

my agency allows me to telework, and, although the government is officially closed these past few days, I have been checking emails, accessing my reports, etc., in order to assist other federal workers who are not affected by the blizzard. it's not perfect, and there are always security concerns with using this technology, but it's better than having nothing but a phone - it allows me to catch up on work in the evening/weekends, or when I am on tdy, and certainly when abnormal situations arise (blizzards?) that prevent me from being at the office.

Posted by: pjd1020 | February 10, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Since most people only work 2-3 hours per day, telework is a wonderful way for them to spend the other 6 hours doing something useful. Pay for attendance is sickening.

Posted by: member8 | February 10, 2010 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I have telecommuted all week. My team has lost no work hours because we have all worked a regular schedule.

My experience is that I am much more productive telecommuting than when I am in the office. I have few interruptions at home and I can work after my regular tour of duty when there is a problem that needs to be solved immediately.

Posted by: kpharmer | February 10, 2010 11:40 AM | Report abuse

If member8 is a fed and comments are not a gross exaggeration, perhaps his/her dept. is ripe for budget cuts. If member8 is not a fed, perhaps he/she should take a nap.

Posted by: la771 | February 10, 2010 11:49 AM | Report abuse

I disagree with the sensitivity arguement- if my entire office is prepared to telecommute, even with the intense DoD security requirements that we're subject to, then it seems like the vast majority of employees could telework. We definitely need to increase VPN capacity, though, as the remote connections are strained when large numbers work from home. In general, though, I've seen ample evidence that my office is working through the storm- even a weekly staff meeting was held via telecom! I suspect this storm will focus a bit more attention on those agencies that are effectively teleworking now and look at how the practice could be spread to other agencies. Its time for the gov to catch up with the realities of the new 21st century office!

Posted by: NatinFallsChurch | February 10, 2010 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, there are obvious benefits and efficiencies, especially given the long commutes in this region. On the other hand, I live in an apartment with no space for a separate home office. My agency is under huge stress, and I need for my home to provide a refuge from that stress, which it won't if everything I look at becomes associated with work. I also see those with Blackberries becoming prisoners of 24/7 access - this is NOT healthy!

Posted by: eyeofthebeholder | February 10, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Memeber 8 is right--pay for attendance is sickening but it is also the federal standard--there is no association between pay and performance Pay for attendance is a good description

Posted by: syoung29 | February 10, 2010 12:29 PM | Report abuse

member 8 is right --pay for attendance is sickening but it is also the federal standard---no work no pay does not apply to feds--pay and performance are not linked in the gov---so feds do get paid for just showing up---or feds get paid for not showing up--You see it makes no difference if you are a fed--you get paid every day and for the rest of your life

Posted by: syoung29 | February 10, 2010 12:35 PM | Report abuse

The DC area is not alone, by any means. Most employers today still believe in seeing the Butt In the Chair, even if the BItCs aren't spending their time productively. That is kind of sad in the DC area since many people spend 2+ hours commuting to work (even under NORMAL conditions) when they could be working. Not going to change any time soon as far as I know.

Posted by: indy474 | February 10, 2010 1:11 PM | Report abuse

member 8 is right there are some who are paid for attendance, in one office there was a person who literally watched tv all day. It's a shame because most gov workers are good folks who work hard. The few bad ones out there reflect poorly on the rest. Unfortunately if a manager tries to terminate the bad one(s) that manager may end up in trouble. I've seen it happen, and watched as the powers that be promoted the employee who was doing nothing...

Posted by: datdamwuf2 | February 10, 2010 1:39 PM | Report abuse

If someone wants to build me a SCIF in my studio apartment, I'm all for it.

Posted by: clarkjerome | February 10, 2010 3:45 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure some of you teleworkers do get a lot done, but it's been my experience that "working from home" is a euphemism for "working on and off while doing stuff around the house or playing with my kids or emailing all my friends because no one can see me". I'm the worst offender, which is why I almost never work from home. I feel guilty that I'm not getting much done and then end up trying to work later and it's a mess. Plus, I think it's important to have a good work-life balance--when I'm home, I'm home. When I'm at work, I'm working. I do live very close to work, though--but that was a very consious decision and in many ways I paid for it.

Posted by: mildaplotkin | February 10, 2010 9:50 PM | Report abuse

"working on and off while doing stuff around the house or playing with my kids or emailing all my friends because no one can see me" is likely more productive than showing up and working on and off between smoke breaks, water breaks, coffee breaks, breakfast breaks, lunch breaks, snack breaks, chat breaks, annoying neighbor breaks, etc, etc, etc.

Posted by: fireball72 | February 12, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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