I have been teleworking for over 7 years for the Federal government. When I first began, it was just for a few days per week. I carried my computer back and forth and planned the work that required I be in the office for the days that I went in. Before cloud computing, there were files or programs that were not accessible from home. Still, on those telecommuting days, I was much more productive than when in the office. No personal visits, interruptions or unplanned ad hoq meetings equaled more productive work time for me.
In “Why Aren’t More Feds Teleworking,” Brittany Ballenstedt states that although close to half of the Federal workforce has been told by a supervisor that they are eligible to telework, they are not doing so. Why is that? Why aren’t more people taking advantage of this great benefit?
Telework is often not supported by management due to money and control
The biggest obstacles managers typically have with telework whittles down to two things: money (resources), and control (management). These wouldn’t be such a big problem if more workers took advantage of the benefit and led the way.
According to Cindy Auten, the general manager for Mobile Work Exchange, Federal agencies are not going to see a cost savings on real estate until employees regularly engage in teleworking. When more workers start teleworking, the resources to assist them in their home offices will cost less as businesses can start purchasing them in bulk.
Middle managers need to support the telework initiatives and push for the funding to make telework successful.
More workers mean more managers are exposed to best practices and management techniques for teleworkers. With more exposure, managers won’t be as scared to let go of some of their control. Resources need to be purchased or offered, including labtops, cell phones, technology to connect to other workers and file and security to protect data. Training for employees and management around telework and its unique challenges and benefits are a plus.
Employees need to take advantage and lead a telework path
Reflect for a moment on your personal work ethic. Successful teleworkers are committed to their work and management can measure work products such as a written document, participation in telecons and online meetings and project progress. You can contribute in assisting management to release control of the need to see and be surrounded by their team by giving them easily measurable output produced while telecommuting.
You owe it to yourself, co-workers and those not yet hired, to lead the way to a new vision of the work place.