Telework Not for Everyone, But It Can Be Good Option for Most

Ann All
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Six Tips on Introducing a Telework Program

Important tips to ensure your telecommuting program is a success.

When I tweeted my post about how some federal agencies are introducing a shared workspace environment, a move some hope will appeal to employees also interested in telework, I got a comment from @twailgum. Mentioning a statistic from the post about the 23 percent of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission employees who are eligible to telework but take a pass, he simply said: "Wow."


As a longtime teleworker, I had experienced a similar reaction. Why would anyone eligible to telework not want to do so? And yet, not everyone does. And those who do, don't always like it.


According to a GovernmentExecutive.com article, several years' worth of Federal Employee Viewpoint Surveys reveal a pretty dismal employee satisfaction rate of about 37 percent for telework arrangements at their agencies. I suspect this is because agencies haven't devoted the necessary effort to helping employees transition to work-at-home environments, a situation the article hopes may change under the provisions of the Telework Enhancement Act.


Yet, telework isn't for everyone. Last month I surveyed several colleagues who work from home at least part of the time and found varying levels of satisfaction with the practice. As I wrote, advance planning from both employers and employees helps mitigate many of the possible negatives of telework. Planning is also stressed in the GovernmentExecutive.com article. For example, it advises managers to sit down with employees to discuss their views on telework instead of assuming all eligible workers will want to try it - or worse, requiring them to do so.


The article also mentions the possible negative impact of telework programs on employees whose work makes it difficult or impossible for them to telework. It encourages teleworkers to discuss their schedules with their coworkers and ensure they remain flexible enough to meet the needs of those in the office. That echoes the advice from a human resources professional I included in my post about a study that found a lack of camaraderie was a problem not just for teleworkers but also for their office-bound colleagues. She also suggested requiring teleworkers to come to the office at least some of the time and giving office-based workers more job autonomy.


Occasional trips to the office are a good idea for many reasons, several of which I mention in a post on how to introduce a telework program. I also like the tips gleaned from telework case studies from several federal agencies, including the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.


Most of these tips apply best to workers with jobs like mine that involve clear tasks, individual effort and easily measurable output. While team projects are more difficult to handle remotely, it can be done and IT Business Edge contributor Rob Enderle offered some good advice for doing so in his post on what he called the live-anywhere option. A oneforty post offers additional tips and suggestions for technical tools that can help remote teams get their work done.

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Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Aug 15, 2011 12:56 PM Julie Kay Julie Kay  says:

Great information - I tried a number of video conferencing services, and ended up going with VIA3 - no big hardware sink for us, and we were up and running in 15 minutes. I think they have a free trial at www.via3.com, if you are looking for a good solution. It also seems to be the most secure of all of the software based solutions.


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