Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Telework: Work beyond 9AM to 5PM

My inspiration for writing this blog was drawn from “telework” which we discussed extensively in the class this week. Telework enhancement Act had been culminated into law in 2010. It required agencies to determine eligibility and notify all workers about it. I browsed telework.gov to explore it more and was glad to find that it provides sufficient guidance to federal agencies over various categories associated with telework such as eligibility, performance and pay and leave procedures. A clear distinction between participation and eligibility was interesting to note. For instance if en employee is eligible for telework, his consent is still mandatory to assign him telework assignment to have his participation. Similarly, eligibility on part of employees cannot be taken as “right to participate” for teleworking until federal agency reposes trust in an employee to assign him/her an assignment.
                                             glimpse of telework.gov
Position of telework managing officer was also made mandatory to direct access to an agency head.  In legislation, training programs were included and telework was made part of business continuity operations in case of natural disasters and extreme weather conditions. I believe the biggest advantage of telework lies in offering “continuity of operations”. For instance, in 2010 days-long snow storm in Washington dealt a heavy blow to the work of federal offices and due to presence of teleworkers $30 million a day were saved. In fact such an encouraging figure was the main reason to passage into law of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010.
It’s a good omen that now Federal agencies have complimented their disaster recovery (DR) programs with telework as part of disaster recovery plans as it would make them well equipped to deal with natural disasters like Katrina in future. Furthermore, teleworking assists government in taping potential of seasoned veterans by inducting them who may not prefer to become part of conventional office hours routine.
 Telework also helps in reducing carbon footprints, rand transportation subsidy costs. “According to the National Capital Region 2013 State of the Commute Report, Federal agency telework participation has more than doubled since 2007, while private sector engagement has grown by only 25 percent during the same period.”

I am optimistic about future of teleworking because in the US, it was made part of Digital government 2012 strategy that aims to Make the Federal Government more “digital-friendly” and motivate agencies to induct more mobile Federal workforce. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), presents a bright example with approximately 65 percent of its 11,500 employees teleworking. Another example is of U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) that re-opened its renovated headquarters in 2013 with framework of regional workforce employment.

Despite many advantage including reduction in cost, energy and being environment friendly, I believe that psychological and social impact of telework on organizational performance are not so easy to gauge because while telework may be best for people who prefer to work alone, the idea may not be very convincing for extrovert people who prefer to grow together in an organization by working in teams. Other areas of debate may be how to balance a work life and professional life at home, and missing out promotion prospects at work place because of one-time projects which may come up for people at offices and provide them with chance to prove their mettle and get promotions. Apart from it, some may argue that telework may lead one into being workaholic because in absence of any clear demarcation between work life, one may get obsessed by checking work emails all the times even while having meals and the due motivation may not be there for him/her by colleagues from office to work by maintaining an equilibrium in his professional life.


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