Telework: The Great Debate
The presidential candidates' first debate may have been in question for awhile. But afficionados of dispute need not fear. We have one brewing right here involving readers responding to our recent posting about telework (See below).
Let's be dramatic and think of it as a sort of talking version of the Sweet Science. In one corner we have Total Believer, a true supporter of telework. In the other corner we have Skepticus, who is, well, skeptical that American taxpayers will get their money's worth from government employees who work at home.
We'll let Skepticus strike first:
"The requirements are strictly technical (hardware, software, training), and pretty sketchy at that. I've yet to hear anyone in government -- on the Hill or in the agencies -- use the term ROI in association with telework. That's return-on-investment, i.e., bang for taxpayer bucks. It's simply assumed that telework is a good thing, like apple pie and motherhood. If it makes us look "green" and makes employees happy, well then that's all the justification we need. Never mind that Fortune 500's who do this make certain the ROI is on the plus side, and that business goals will be better served, before OK'ing programs like this. That's all beside the point in Fedworld."
Now Total Believer:
"As a person who has teleworked for NIH for more than a year I must say I get more done on my telework days than other days because I'm less tired, less stressed and less interrupted by everything from the building being pulled down next door to people chatting outside my door. Our department was down 70% due to promotions and retirements and people who just could not make their commute and job work this year. I literally could not have done all I did to do the work of several other people if I had not been able to work from home. My institute is expanding telework to 2 days a week I think because to their surprise it was working or possibly because they couldn't keep people without it. Additionally, there is a learning curve for dealing with the technology and they want us to be able to work from home if its impossible to get to work due to weather, disaster, terrorism or epidemic. People have to actually work at home so they'll know how to work at home when the really need to work at home.
"The reality in the Washington region is that traffic is insane and people don't necessarily live near where they work and couples may live one place and work in 2 different states. I live in Virginia and my husband's job is here but I work 49 miles away in Rockville. When I'm gone its for 11 1/2 hours minimum each day and I use a tank of gas every 3-4 days and pay someone to let my dog out. Telework is saving me quite a bit of money and wear and tear on my car each week which is good since the government is not exactly dolling out the bonuses despite the fact that it has a hiring shortage and it also does not offer private sector parity.
"I know its convenient to regard bureaucrats as lazy but we get virtually no perks compared to people in other walks of life and believe or not many of us are responsible people commited to our Agency's mission. Lots of folks would be in big trouble without us believe it or not and with a huge number of feds about to retire and no incentive to join the workforce its a darned good thing some agencies are thinking about telework."
The first round is over. Judges?
Please email us to report offensive comments.
Posted by: Bob | September 26, 2008 2:51 PM
Posted by: Chuck Wilsker | September 26, 2008 5:04 PM
Posted by: andy | September 28, 2008 1:02 PM
Posted by: Peggy | September 29, 2008 5:12 PM
Posted by: Total Believer | September 29, 2008 10:04 PM
Posted by: Skepticus | September 30, 2008 12:02 PM
Posted by: pete | October 1, 2008 9:47 AM
Posted by: shari | October 2, 2008 2:21 PM
Posted by: Sandi | October 3, 2008 3:46 PM
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