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Telework FAQs

Performance Management

  • Some supervisors express concern that when their employees are teleworking, they will not be able to monitor that employee's work effort.  But when approached correctly, supervisors discover they are better able to monitor the work by shifting the focus from how much work the employee looks like he/she is accomplishing to how much he/she actually is accomplishing.  By focusing on the work product instead of the work activity, many supervisors find they are better able to communicate clear expectations to their employees.  The resulting agreement on job expectations often leads to increases in employee productivity and job satisfaction.
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  • As a general rule, no.  The Telework Enhancement Act contains specific language that clearly states teleworkers and non-teleworkers are to be treated the same for purposes of:
    • Periodic appraisals of job performance;
    • Training, rewarding, reassigning, promoting, reducing in grade, retaining and removing employees;
    • Work requirements; or
    • Other acts involving managerial discretion
    In sum this means the performance standards for teleworking employees must be the same as the performance standards for non-teleworking employees.  Like non-teleworking employees, teleworkers are held accountable for the results they produce.  Good performance techniques practiced by a manager will mean a smooth, easier transition to a telework environment.  Resources for performance management are available from OPM.
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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 agreement provides the framework for the discussion that needs to take place between the manager and the employee about expectations.  For all types of telework, this discussion is important to ensure that managers and employees understand one another’s expectations concerning maintaining communication with the office and what will be done to meet contingencies.  If the teleworker is needed, he/she may be asked to come into the office on a scheduled telework day. If the employee is required to come into the office, the telework agreement should outline  the expectation regarding the amount of notice (if any) should be given for reporting to the official worksite, and how  such notice will be provided.  For further information, please consult your agency telework policy.
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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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  • 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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  • It is important to note that performance standards for teleworking employees must be the same as performance standards for non-teleworking employees. Management expectations for performance should be clearly addressed in the employee's performance plan, and the performance plan should be reviewed to ensure the standards do not create inequities or inconsistencies between teleworking and non-teleworking employees. Like non-teleworking employees, teleworkers are held accountable for the results they produce. Good performance management techniques practiced by the manager will mean a smoother, easier transition to a telework environment.
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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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  • 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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