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Telework Center

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Five steps to telework for managers

Posted on: Monday 10/25/2010 12:25pm

If you're looking for a quick way to get out in front of what you need to know about telework, there's a 212 page handbook that can help.

Sandra Gurvis is one of the authors of the "Handbook for Managing Telework" subtitled "A Five-Step Management Process for Managing Teleworkers".

That process, says Gurvis, can be boiled down to:

  1. Decide if your organization needs telework
  2. Create a teleworking team
  3. Create a game plan
  4. Implementation and
  5. Maintenance

Gurvis says teleworking is "definitely the way of the future, in terms of rush-hour traffic, in terms of the environment, in terms of work-life balance."

For more from the Dorobek Insider report by Jolie Lee, see The 5-step guide to managing teleworkers

Federal telework mindset is shifting

Posted on: Monday 10/18/2010 5:00pm

Another fire in a federal office last week brought home the need to be able to telework.

The fire at the Department of Agriculture Plant and Health Inspection Service center in Riverdale, Maryland closed the building for a day. According to an information given employees "Under the Agency's continuity of operations plan, those employees able to work from home," were authorized to do so. "Those who are not equipped to telework are authorized administrative leave for the day," said the USDA website.

The closure lasted a day, but reminded many of the "Snowmageddon" storms of last winter that shut down some DC offices for a week.

Looking back at that event, Bruce Klein, senior vice president of Cisco Systems' U.S. public-sector unit, told Government Computer News he thinks it promoted telework.

"My colleagues and I can work anywhere," Klein told GCN, "a hotel room, a Starbucks, at home - using secure connections. And in the case of a snowstorm or, God forbid, a pandemic, our customers can do the same thing."

In case of emergency, pull on telework

Posted on: Friday 10/8/2010 6:14pm

A fire in the Commerce Department's Hoover Building last Friday acted as a very real wake up call for some federal managers. The building was closed, but work had to go on. The answer: employees were encouraged to telework. Not just allowed to. They were encouraged.

Not that much more proof is needed for the value of a solid telework policy.

General Services Administration's Martha Johnson learned its value in her first seconds on the job. The administrator told a recent town hall meeting at the Telework Exchange, "I was sworn in by phone from my kitchen during the blizzard last winter. So, Telework is still 'who I am,' and it is also for GSA about 'who we are.'"

While Johnson said "GSA is about workplaces," she acknowledged the 21st century workplace might not be a place at all.

Cybersecurity and telework make an interesting team

Posted on: Monday 10/4/2010 11:00am

Federal executives, both civilian and defense, say cybersecurity plays a big part in where they decide to do their work.

More than a hundred federal executives randomly selected from Government Executive's subscribers from 28 federal agencies including Army, Homeland Security, Treasury, and the United States Postal Service participated in a May survey titled Cybersecurity in Government: Balancing Access, Functionality, and Mobility.

More than half the respondents, 52%, said their agency security restrictions are so tight, they're limited to working within the confines of their agency's buildings.

Curiously, those same restrictions drive those same executives to work anywhere but at the office. Sixty percent say say they often work at home. Many say they have to take work home because that's the only place they can access the information they need to get their job done.

A majority of respondents surveyed are provided with a laptop by their agency (61 percent), and more than one-third have agency-issued smartphones (35 percent).

Telework enjoys a 'perfect storm'

Posted on: Monday 9/20/2010 11:44am

Aside from the "I need to see my employees working" management-types, the future is looking exceptionally bright to followers of federal telework.

"The Federal government is in a telework perfect storm - it's a win for employees, managers, agencies, and the environment," said Cindy Auten, General Manager, Telework Exchange at a recent event with Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed is joining forces the Telework Exchange "in support of their mission to expand and improve telework options for government agencies and employees," according to a Lockheed press release.

Additionally, Bob Cusack, managing editor of The Hill newspaper says to watch for the Telework Act to be passed this year.

After a rough patch in the House, it now has bipartisan backing from Frank Wolf (R-VA), Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and others. "I think that's a bill," said Cusack, "that could be folded into a continuing resolution or some type of massive bill that's moving through" and use the momentum to carry though. "It's one of those bills that's going to be attached to a train that's moving and that's what the sponsors are going to be looking for."

Big telework goals being met by a tiny agency

Posted on: Friday 9/10/2010 6:22pm

Like an untold number of students across the country handing in essays on "How I Spent My Summer Vacation," the White House has released what agencies have turned in for their Federal Agency Strategic Sustainability Performance Plans.

According to the White House, agencies were asked to "develop, implement and annually update a plan that prioritizes sustainability actions based on a positive return on investment for the American taxpayer and to meet energy, water, and waste reduction targets."

Standing out from the crowd is a tiny independent agency, the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Part of the challenge in meeting the "goal of a 28 percent reduction by 2020 in direct greenhouse gas pollution" is the fact that it doesn't own any buildings or vehicles.

And yet...

Listed second on the IMLS' Sustainability Accomplishments in a press release is that "nearly 25 percent of the agency staff telework at least occasionally."

And blowing the doors off the President's goals is the IMLS's intention to "Increase percentage of employees who telework at least one day per week to 50 percent by fiscal year 2013."

It may be tiny, but when it comes to telework, you can hear the IMLS roar.

Telework music on hold continues

Posted on: Monday 9/6/2010 1:50pm

With the end of summer, recess comes to a close on Capitol Hill next week. And with Congress, the waiting returns for teleworkers.

So far, the House and the Senate have passed similar bills to expand telework across government.

The Senate had the lead, passing S. 707 in May, while the House took until July to pass H.R. 1722.

Now the reconciliation needs to begin before one final bill can be sent to the President for approval.

Both versions are designed to expand telework across government by assuming employees are eligible for telework instead of requiring them to prove it's a good fit for their position.

GSA tries to have less need for itself

Posted on: Monday 8/30/2010 10:26am

While it might seem a bit counterintuitive, the General Services Administration's Public Building Service (PBS) is trying to use less office space.

Chief Information Officer Diane Herdt says it's all part of an effort to get greener. GSA Administrator Martha Johnson "has given us the goal to reduce our carbon footprint and to reduce the amount of space that we currently have. So has Bob Peck, the commissioner of PBS. So we're looking at tools and technology that will allow us to...telework outside of the office, as well as hotelling when we're here in the office."

While PBS isn't quite ready to turn off all the lights and send everyone home to work, Herdt says GSA is ready to loosen up the leash a bit.

I think we're going to be more lenient with the number of days that we allow people to telework. I think we're also going to reduce the amount of space. In other words, if you telework at home or somewhere else two to three days a week then you need to give up your desk here so that when you come into the office you only have a hotellng suite as opposed to a desk and the cubicle associated with it.

The PBS is getting a good grip on the technology needed, said the CIO. "Pretty much every one of our employees has a laptop which is set up with the GSA standard configuration, which includes the security necessary, as well as a BlackBerry." Teleworkers are also required to use instant messaging so they're always accessible during work hours. Major upgrades to Office 2007, VOIP, and remote access are underway as well.

And oh, yeah, by the way... You know the pushback you hear about from managers about "out of sight, out of mind" when it comes to teleworkers?

"We're sending our managers to training," says Herdt, "to learn how to properly manage virtual employees."

Telework status report from the exburbs

Posted on: Monday 8/23/2010 9:59am

There's some rather startling news about the state of federal telework coming out of Southern Maryland this past week. Despite efforts and wishes of OPM to the contrary, "telecommuting is down in the region," reports Southern Maryland Newspapers.

Even though a study shows the federal government is gradually expanding the practice nationwide, patronage of the Southern Maryland Telework Centers is declining.

The three centers, in Waldorf, Prince Frederick and Laurel run by the College of Southern Maryland (CSM) currently host 78 workers, compared to 90 a year ago. CSM attributes the decline to a boost in the cost of renting a workstation, "which was $28 a day in 2008 but had reached $72 by Sept. 1, 2009."

The cost is worth it for one relative new comer to telework. Kimberly Savoy-Brown, a program management analyst for the U.S. Department of Education, is a client at the Waldorf center. "She got her first taste of relative freedom in April, when federal employees were urged to take leave or work from home to make room for attendees of a nuclear summit in Washington," reports the paper. She says she teleworks one day a week, but now "wishes it were more."

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The Four Horsemen of Telework

Posted on: Monday 8/16/2010 4:41am

Most of the back and forth about teleworking boils down to four basic ideas, notes Washington Technology in 4 reasons why federal managers resist telework. Those same points are touched on in How to make telework really work from the Dorobek Insider on Federal News Radio.

Here's a quick look at the issues and the pros and cons:

1. Technical disconnects

    WashTech: Federal workers "need government-provided portable devices, security software, management software and other tools" to get the job done.

    Dorobek Insider: You "need surprisingly little to actually telework." A "basic laptop with wireless capability and a cellphone," should cover the essentials.

2. Disconnected employees

    WashTech: "'In their 'work from home days,' they do not respond at all,' one reader wrote."

    Dorobek Insider: Managers "have to change their mindset to focus on the results... to make it so that people can get the results," including meeting expectations that employees will respond to phone calls or e-mails.

3. Management matters

    WashTech: "'Telephones and e-mail are good for communicating facts, but nuances are lost,'" says one manager."

    Dorobek Insider: "(S)uccessful telecommuting programs are very results-oriented that have leaders who are focused on the end game, not the process itself.""

4. Bad apple? Bad news.

    WashTech: The "process for dealing with underperforming feds leaves something to be desired and that many managers would rather just avoid it. As they see it, their best available option is to keep those employees on a short leash."

    Dorobek Insider: "We're working against hundreds of years of management by walking around. . . . This is a change in mindset." Being an effective leader requires setting clear goals regardless of where the employee performs the work.

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