Telework requires 'culture change'

Monday - 11/22/2010, 5:28pm EST

Dr. Naomi Leventhal, Director, Deloitte Consulting's Federal Human Capital Practice

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The Telework Enhancement Act passed Congress last week and is now headed to President Obama.

What will the legislation mean for feds? And how should managers prepare?

Dr. Naomi Leventhal, director in Deloitte Consulting's Federal Human Capital Practice, told the DorobekINSIDER that telework will require a "culture change" at agencies.

Supervisors will have to change how they manage their employees, Leventhal said.

"Managers have often been said to be really resistant to this," she said. "The proof, though, is when they start to learn more ways of management. They develop new methods of communication and collaboration."

Telework offers workers flexibility, something that appeals to a young workforce that has different expectations for how to work. This type of flexibility is necessary in government to attract top workers and stay competitive with the private sector, where telework is offered more widely.

However, telework does not create a "free-for-all, make your own rules" workplace, Leventhal said.

Employees are still accountable for doing their work.

"At the end of the day, everyone is going to celebrate (telework) for one reason -- it helps people to work more effectively," Leventhal said.

The telework bill on its way to the president gives the Office of Personnel Management a leadership role in implementing the new policies.

OPM is one agency already experimenting with the potential of telework. Deloitte is now studying the Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) pilot program at OPM. The assessment will cover worker performance, behavior and engagement, Leventhal said.

"This bill is going to give added momentum, focus and a lot of energy around the whole concept of telework," Leventhal said.

Do you plan to telework? Take our poll!

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