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Telework FAQs

  • Agencies should allow pre-decisional involvement to the fullest extent practicable as provided in Executive Order 13522 and satisfy collective bargaining obligations by working with labor when developing their telework policies and agreements.
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  • Sometimes teleworking does not work.  If a teleworker's quality of work declines, treat it as you would any performance issue.  Review the telework agreement and give your employees a chance to improve.  Your telework agreement should include a clause stating that either the manager or the employee can cancel the telework agreement for operational or performance issues.
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  • There is no current prohibition in Federal law or regulation that says managers and supervisors cannot telework.  Managers and supervisors must be committed to using telework to the fullest extent possible within their organizations if Federal telework programs are to succeed.  Experience is the only way to enable managers and employees to work through any technology, equipment, communications, workflow, and associated issues that may inhibit the transparency of telework.  Also, individuals expected or anticipated to telework during an emergency situation, including managers and supervisors, should be encouraged to telework with some frequency under non-emergency situations.  Managers and supervisors should make it a point to regularly participate in telework in order to lead by example and be comfortable with the dynamics of managing in a telework environment.
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  • Subject to the agency’s telework policy and operational needs of the organization, there is no restriction on how much flexibility may be allowed to teleworkers in this regard.  Since telework eliminates commute time, it may make sense for the teleworker to begin their work day earlier than they would otherwise.  However, the amount of flexibility will be determined by agency policy, collective bargaining agreements, and the business needs of the organization. 
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  • This is a common myth, but implemented properly, a telework program should not cause any extra work for non-teleworkers.  Teleworking and non-teleworking employees must understand expectations regarding telework arrangements including coverage, communications and responsibilities.  Also, managers should avoid distributing work based on “availability” by physical presence to avoid unfairly burdening coworkers who do not telework. Keep in mind good performance management practices are essential for telework to be effective and equitable.  For more guidance on performance management, please see OPM's Performance Management page.
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  • The Telework Enhancement Act defines telework or teleworking as a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of such employee's position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work.  In practice, telework is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternative worksite (e.g. home or telework center).
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  • A successful telework program can improve organizational efficiency, raise the quality and quantity of work, boost employee morale and job satisfaction, and lower your employee turnover rate.  In addition, the enhanced communication that a telework program fosters can further develop your own skills as a manager.
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  • Teleworkers should be aware of:
    • Coping with interruptions and distractions — Often friends, neighbors and family members do not realize that a teleworker is working. Although an occasional, brief interruption may be welcome, teleworkers must learn to keep interruptions to a minimum.
    • Working long hours — Teleworkers need to be careful they do not slip into "workaholism." Some personality types have the tendency to work longer hours than usual when they are teleworking because they can focus so well on their work. Teleworkers should give careful consideration to the balance or integration of their work and personal lives to avoid burnout.
    • Exercising self-control — If teleworkers find themselves procrastinating, they should evaluate their work habits and make necessary changes to ensure productivity.
    • Designating space — A designated work area is recommended for teleworking. A separate work space may mean fewer distractions or interruptions and a higher level of discipline and organization.
    • Gaining support — A family's or supervisor's attitude may sometimes be detrimental to a telework arrangement. Teleworkers must work to gain the support and understanding of those around them.
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  • Subject to the limitations specifically described in the Act, the agency eligibility requirements and any applicable collective bargaining agreements, the law applies to all Federal Executive agency employees, regardless of geographic location.  In the definitions section of the Act (Sec. 6501), the law refers to 5 USC 2105 for the meaning of the term "employee." If your agency is considered to be an Executive agency and if all of your employees fall within the definition in 5 USC 2105, the law applies, regardless of the location of any given employee's permanent duty station.
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  • When a telework program is implemented properly and the teleworker selection process is clear and objective, any possible negative effects on the morale and productivity of non-teleworkers can be minimized.  It is important to clearly communicate to all employees that teleworkers are selected on the basis of their job functions and their work performance characteristics. It is also critical that an employee's telework arrangement does not increase other employees' workloads. When management does not handle the transition carefully, objectively and transparently, jealousy and resentment can arise from non-teleworkers who mistakenly believe that teleworkers are not really working.  In other instances, co-workers are not interested in teleworking, but respect those who do.  Managers need to ensure that all employees are treated equitably when it comes to expectations and performance, regardless of where they are working.  Employees who telework more than two or three days per week should be encouraged to visit the office in order to maintain personal relationships with colleagues and supervisors.  As with any organizational change or shift, communication is the key to its success!
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  • The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Act) requires that each Executive agency designate a Telework Managing Officer (TMO). Before the law was passed, most agencies fulfilled the day-to-day operational aspects of telework through a telework coordinator (with telework coordinators at the subagency level). The telework coordinator served as the key contact for policy and program questions. Many coordinators, however, had telework as a collateral responsibility without much authority or contact with senior leaders. The Act requires the TMO to assume these duties as the main agency official on telework matters. The TMO is a senior official of the agency, established within the office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), or its equivalent, and who has direct access to the head of the agency. Note that he or she does not need to be the CHCO. The important thing is that the position be given direct access to the head of the agency. We believe it is the intent of this legislation that the TMO be a strategic thinker and planner who will help the agency incorporate telework in a way that makes good business sense. The TMO is responsible for policy development and implementation related to telework programs; serves as an advisor to agency leadership; and is the primary point of contact with OPM on telework matters. In addition to making telework an integral way of doing business in the agency, the TMO will be responsible for helping with the development of goals and metrics in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. In designating a TMO, agencies should look for the same leadership competencies and high standards they would consider in selecting for any leadership position.
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  • The provisions of the Telework Enhancement Act only pertain to Federal civilian employees as defined by 5 USC 2105.  However, there is no Federal statute or regulation that specifically prohibits Federal contractors from teleworking.  Generally, the decision to allow a contractor to telework would be made by the contractor’s supervisor and/or in conjunction with the contracting agency/office.
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  • The TMO designation is new with the passage of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. The TMO is a single person at each agency who is ultimately accountable for that agency's telework program. This position is meant to be a high-level advisor to the agency leadership, a resource on telework issues for managers and employees, and is responsible for policy development and implementation related to the agency's telework program. The way agencies implemented telework before the law was passed was that each agency had a "Telework Coordinator" at the Department/Agency level (e.g., Department of Homeland Security), and also individual "telework coordinators" at the subagency/subcomponent level (e.g., Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, etc.). Whenever OPM would require agency-wide information on telework such as for the annual aggregate data collected on telework participation, it would work with the single point of contact at the Department/Agency-level. The agency-wide coordinator would then work with his/her subcomponent "coordinators" to gather the information for their respective areas and then would tally everything to submit the data in a single report to OPM on behalf of the entire agency. The TMO position more closely resembles what was formerly the Department-level "Telework Coordinator." This means the role within an agency of pulling together information on telework from various internal sources and then reporting to OPM now falls on the TMO. However, the responsibilities of the TMO extend beyond operational day-to-day aspects of telework and delve more into policy, advising, and an overarching management of the entire telework program for his/her agency. Agencies have discretion to determine whether or not, or how, they will continue to utilize "telework coordinators" to implement the day-to-day aspects of the agency telework program subject to the oversight of the TMO. The bottom line, however, is that each agency will have only one individual, the TMO, who is the single accountable person according to the law for the agency's telework program. In other words, when OPM contacts any given agency in the future to either request or disseminate information on Federal telework, we will contact the TMO. It will then be up to the TMO to coordinate internally with other staff members assisting with operational telework issues in that agency. Human Resources staff or agency employees that have questions or issues about telework should be encouraged to direct their concerns to the agency's TMO or the TMO’s designee.
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  • No.  The statute requires that each employee be appraised against his or her performance standard(s).  It does not allow for appraising an employee by "presuming" that an employee is meeting performance standards.  For the same reason, the process for appraising employees described by the regulations does not provide for any "assumed" levels of performance.
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  • Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility and the application process. Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of their organizations. You can work with your telework coordinator to fully understand the relevant policies and procedures. If you are eligible by the terms of the policy and have followed proper procedures, your telework coordinator can help you write a business-based proposal to submit to your manager.
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Total Count: 67, Number of Pages: 5, Page: 2