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Telework FAQs

Telework Basics

  • 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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  • 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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  • Agencies have their own policies and procedures that determine how its employees may apply for a telework arrangement.   In general, employees should be prepared to make a business-based proposal to telework, rather than base the request to telework on personal considerations. At the very least, in addition to describing logistics like location and frequency, you should be able to discuss how you will accomplish your work without adverse effect on your organization and/or co-workers. While an employee may request a telework arrangement in writing or verbally (depending on the agency’s policy), the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires that a written telework agreement between the supervisor and employee be in place before he/she can begin to telework.  This agreement outlines the specifics of the telework arrangement (e.g., location of telework, expectations, etc.).  Also, you will be required to successfully complete an interactive telework training program before you will be allowed to telework. Note that the head of the agency has discretion to exempt employees from this training requirement if they have already been participating in telework.
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  • To obtain a copy of your agency telework policy, first go to your agency’s intranet.  If you are unsuccessful, please contact your agency telework coordinator or TMO or visit your agency HR Department.
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  • Yes, the Telework Enhancement Act requires every employee who participates in telework to have a written agreement, regardless of the type of telework.
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  • Most agency telework policies and many collective bargaining agreements will include procedures for establishing telework agreements, obtaining equipment, and related matters.  Managers should familiarize themselves and their employees with their agency’s telework policy and applicable collective bargaining agreements to ensure compliance.
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  • For the most recent telework data, visit Telework.gov's Annual Reports to Congress page and view the latest report.
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  • Yes. There does not appear to be any language in the Act that would lead us to revise our understanding that telework is a voluntary 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." However, 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.  Also, it is important to remember that the intent of the Act is to promote the use of telework and agencies should make every effort to encourage employees and managers accordingly.
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  • Telework is not a substitute for dependent care.  However, in keeping with the objectives of the Presidential Memorandum - Enhancing Workplace Flexibilities and Work-Life Programs, telework is a valuable tool to individuals with caregiving responsibilities. Time saved commuting can be spent with family members, and the flexibility of being closer to home may enable caregivers to take less time off for activities like doctor’s visits, school programs, etc. A teen-aged child or elderly relative might also be at home with the teleworker, after school or during the day, as long as they are independently pursuing their own activities.
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  • Federal hiring authority and decisions are made at the individual agency level.  The Governmentwide office for the Federal telework program does not maintain information about Federal job opportunities or a listing of Federal positions that are eligible for telework.  As required by the Telework Enhancement Act, each Federal agency establishes its own telework program authorizing employees to telework, including determinations about eligibility.   For more information about Federal job opportunities please visit the USAJOBS website.
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  • The key difference between the telework relationship and the in-office relationship is your manager cannot see what you are doing when you are working at home.  It all comes down to trust.  You can take a number of simple steps to earn your manager’s trust by:
    • Doing your best work
    • Completing work assignments on time
    • Pitching in to help when needed (it is important to continue to be a team player even when teleworking)
    • Volunteering for projects
    • Working independently without the need for close supervision
    • Keeping your supervisor and co-workers informed about what you are working on and what you have accomplished
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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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  • 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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  • Each individual agency has its own policies and procedures that determine how its employees may apply for a telework arrangement.   In general, most employees submit their telework application to their immediate supervisor.  For additional information, please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator, or visit your agency HR Department.
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  • No.  The language of the Telework Enhancement Act does not contain language that would lead us to revise our understanding that telework is a voluntary 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.”  However, 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 work 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.  Also, it is important to remember the intent of the Act is to promote the use of telework so agencies and managers should make every effort to encourage employees and managers to telework as appropriate.
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Total Count: 19, Number of Pages: 2, Page: 1