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Training & Resources

Telework FAQs

  • 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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  • 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 should be no significant difference between managing the performance of a teleworker and managing the employee who works in the office.  Each employee should be appraised against his or her performance standard(s), despite location.
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  • Not necessarily. The Act states the head of the agency may provide for an exemption from the training requirements "if the head of the agency determines that the training would be unnecessary because the employee is already teleworking under a work arrangement in effect before the date of enactment." The bottom line is that employees who have already been teleworking may be exempted from this training requirement; however, the decision to waive this training requirement must be made by the agency head and implemented in the manner that is normally done in your agency.
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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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  • 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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  • No. An employee's "eligibility" for telework does not automatically confer the right or the obligation for an employee to "participate" in telework. Agencies have discretion to make their own eligibility and participation determinations for employees subject to operational needs while considering the specific requirements of the Act. The fact that an employee may be deemed "eligible" does not mean that the employee can be compelled to "participate" because telework is a voluntary workplace flexibility. In other words, an agency may not compel an employee to telework, even if the duties of the position make that employee "telework eligible." Keep in mind that although entering into a telework arrangement is voluntary, once the employee is under such an arrangement, he/she may be required to telework outside of his/her normal telework schedule in the case of a temporary emergency situation if that understanding has been clearly communicated by the agency to the teleworking employee in the written telework agreement.
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  • OPM provides a list of agency telework coordinators.  If you are still unsuccessful or you are trying to find your TMO, please contact your agency HR Department.
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  • Yes, OPM offers a Governmentwide telework training program for managers on our website.  Additionally, individual agencies have the option of offering their own on-line or classroom based telework training tailored to their organizations.  In addition to the training for managers offered on our website, there is also specialized training available through OPM's Eastern and Western Management Development Centers. Details on the Development Centers and course schedules can be found at the Center for Leadership Development's website.
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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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  • For information about your agency’s telework policy you should first start with your agency telework coordinator.  If you are still unsuccessful, please contact your agency HR Department.
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  • It depends on the provisions the agency chooses to use in taking the performance-based action. If the agency uses the appraisal provisions, an opportunity period must be provided. If the agency uses the adverse action provisions, there is no specific requirement for an opportunity period.
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  • No.  Both a performance rating and a rating of record involve the evaluation of an employee's performance against all the elements and standards in the performance plan.  At any time during the appraisal period, a manager can make the determination that an employee's performance is unacceptable on one or more critical elements.  This determination is sufficient to begin the process that could lead to a performance-based action if the employee's performance fails to improve to an acceptable level.
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  • The answer depends upon the intended use of the checklist.  If the checklist is used solely for program purposes, such as acquainting the teleworker with workplace safety, then the agency may require employees to sign such a checklist to participate in telework.  However, if the checklist is intended to have legal standing for safety and/or liability purposes, then the answer is no. For more information, please refer to GSA's Guidelines for Alternative Workplace Arrangements.  For more information about your agency equipment policy for telework, please consult your agency telework policy or telework coordinator.
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  • Sometimes there may be instances in which both the employee and manager have made a good faith effort to make a telework arrangement work without success.  Both the teleworker and the supervisor should understand that if telework does not work out for an individual, it does not in any way reflect on that individual's ability to perform his/her job.  Your telework agreement should include a clause stating either the manager or the employee may terminate the telework agreement for operational or performance issues.  For more information about your agency’s policy for terminating telework agreements, please consult your agency telework policy or agency telework coordinator.
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Total Count: 67, Number of Pages: 5, Page: 4