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Survey gives new numbers on teleworking

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

A new governmentwide survey finds general satisfaction among rank and file federal workers and for the first time gives the government hard numbers on the number of feds who telework.

The 2010 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, administered by the Office of Personnel Management (the government's HR office), compiled answers from more than 263,000 Executive branch workers, the largest survey of federal workers ever completed.

The survey, conducted every other year since 2002, asked federal workers about telework for the first time. Ten percent of respondents said they telework at least once a week and 12 percent said they do so for less than one full work day. Another 36 percent said they can't telework because they must be physically present to do their job (a group likely including law enforcement officers, lab technicians and national park rangers); 7 percent said they don't telework because technical issues prevent them from doing so; 23 percent said they don't telework because they're not allowed to do so; and 12 percent of workers say they choose not to telework.

The results mean 64 percent of federal workers could work remotely if given the opportunity.

"Hopefully those numbers will continue to climb so we can continue to push employees and managers to move in that direction," said Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry, who called teleworking "a valuable tool for the government."

Telework advocates will surely use the new numbers to pressure lawmakers to pass telework legislation, arguing agencies need the option to avoid snow days and shut downs during major summits in the Washington area. The Obama administration also is encouraging federal agencies and Congress to allow for more flexible work arrangements so agencies can use the options as a recruiting tool, but legislative efforts have stalled in the House and Senate amid Republican concerns with the costs.

Do you telework? Can you telework? Do you know someone who does? Or should government workers be required to work from the office?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

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By Ed O'Keefe  | July 12, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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A substantial number of employees at my agency telework, either routinely or episodically. A lot of our DC employees were able to work through Snowmaggedon and maintain contact with our field offices and grantees. There are some resistant supervisors, but a continued emphasis by OPM and senior management is helping turn that around. It would be helpful if telework hours could be tracked using NFC instead of employee-reported data.

Telework, managed well, increases employee satisfaction and in many cases, productivity. At least it has at CNCS.

Posted by: CNCSUnion | July 12, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

Our agency employees love them time to catch up on yardwork, shopping, schlep the kids around and best of all = not have to use any annual leave! These fed gov 4-day work weeks put the Euro-gov jobs to shame!

Posted by: wrangler1 | July 12, 2010 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Teleworking is a great tool, but, to use it effectivly, there will have to be a government mandate to do so. I work for a boss who feels "he" is the only one who can telework. Its rather discouraging when he uses it when he has sitter problems, DR's appointments, contractors situations, etc. This enables him to use less leave, because no one questions him or what he's really doing, which might explain why he is not a fan of working from home for other employees, other than himself. I am able to do most of my job from home, given the opportunity, but, until they put it in writing, it will remain a tool for the elite whom feel only "they" are authorized to do so, and all other peeons should be in the office, chained to the desk with a specially fitted ball and chain. Imagine what could happen if they were to put a telecommuting rule into effect? Less traffic, Less pollution, less gas money, less wear and tear on your vehicle, less congestion, imagine that? Something that would help the world is being discussed like we are trying to get that the damn cap back on the oil spill, simply no urgency~

Posted by: jleake | July 12, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

@wrangler1 ....

shame on your agency mgrs if they can't tell if employees who telework are productive or not.

we have dozens of productive employees teleworking in my office and managers know whether or not they are working ... any manager who can't tell that should be replaced.

Posted by: fendertweed | July 12, 2010 9:56 AM | Report abuse

I guess interpersonal interaction isn't really a component of 64% of government jobs.

Posted by: ronjaboy | July 12, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

I work for OSD the lawyers and administrative judges in my agency are allowed to telework however, the security specialists are not. Seems our director a lawyer doesn't trust us. Lets have a poll who do you all trust more DOD security specialists or govt lawyers and adminsitrative judges? Now our department counsels love to take off in the middle of day and go to movies for a few hours. We have department counsels and AJs working in Philly and Chicago etc who never come into the office.

We can't get a straight answer about why we can't telework. Our case load is now online. Discrimination you bet!

Posted by: lotusxidriver | July 12, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm all for increased telework but am always concerned when "snowmageddon" comes up. Certainly that was a unique situation, but at least in my case, teleworking would not have made a lick of difference.

I had no electricity or heat for 3 days, no Internet connection for 6, and no way to get out of my neighborhood. At least most of it happened over a weekend, and I had enough work with me to work offline and keep in touch by phone for a few days. Just wanted to point out that teleworking isn't a panacea for the weather.

Posted by: lullabee | July 12, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Oh who cares, how would you have gotten into work anyway? This antiquated notion that everyone needs to be physically present is moronic. Grow up. Teleworking is the only saving grace for this overcrowded city full of megalomaniacal workaholics. Get over yourself.

Posted by: davis_renee | July 12, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse


We'll show those Greeks what a good ol' fashioned American Boondoggle is! They don't know what slackin' off IS!

Posted by: snowbucks | July 12, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Sadly there are a few who use telework for their own ends to take care of kids, shopping and not working. This does make it look bad for the ones who actually do telework and produce each day. For a supervisor to not know their employee is not using telework right or checking up on their workers from time to time is just not being a supervisor. It can work well and it can be a great help during weather events if you have power and a way to get on the internet. It's not a fix all sure but it does help to keep traffic down in high population area and saves gas and time. I find I work even longer hours when I telework. I get more done and my supervisor does know what I do because we are in contact at any given part of the day either by email or phone. Not all can telework in my office because of the nature of what we do but for the most part most of us could. We work compressed schedules and if you do then on your day off week you can't telework because your out of the office for your compressed schedule day. So you get a choice to either work compressed schedules 9 hour days and get one day in a two week period off and one telework day the next week or you can get to telwork days and not work the compressed work week. Most of us have to schedule a Friday as our day of from compressed work week so this means we can not take a leave day the next Monday after that day off. This used to be much different before it was mandated we come up with one policy for all of our organization. It got so much more restrictive when that happened. We have no moved backwards on teleworking. For me I quit teleworking because it became to much trouble. Hummm... maybe that was the point of more restrictions... seems to me that it feels that way. We are all mandated to have a telework packet in for weather events or anything else that might come up so we can work from home. Bottom line is when it's good for the company then they tell us to telework otherwise forget it. Who said it was fair? Surly not me...

Posted by: Concerned5 | July 12, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

How can you not like a federal position. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released several reports showing the average pay and benefits for the federal Sector is twice that of the private Sector-Come on--every time it rains, snows or our country is under attack most feds are told to go home. Come on --not one fed has been laid off, lost any a pay or lost any benefits. Come on--Pay raises and promotions are automatic and tied to attendance NOT Performance---Come on--what is there not to like about being a member of the most over compensated sector in America. Come on

Posted by: syoung29 | July 12, 2010 7:55 PM | Report abuse

How can you not like a federal position. The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released several reports showing the average pay and benefits for the federal Sector is twice that of the private Sector-Come on--every time it rains, snows or our country is under attack most feds are told to go home. Come on --not one fed has been laid off, lost any a pay or lost any benefits. Come on--Pay raises and promotions are automatic and tied to attendance NOT Performance---Come on--what is there not to like about being a member of the most over compensated sector in America. Come on

Posted by: syoung29 | July 12, 2010 7:57 PM | Report abuse

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