Fedweek

OPM’s latest report on telework by federal employees, covering 2016, shows that of employees deemed eligible to telework 48 percent do so only on a situational basis.

Such ad hoc telework “may facilitate continuity of operations planning,” one of the goals of telework, the report said, but regular telework is needed to accomplish other goals including reducing real estate and energy costs. Agencies also increasingly tout the availability of telework in their recruiting and retention pitches, it added, and telework is deemed one of the most positive aspects of federal employment in the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey.

It said that 11 percent of those eligible telework no more than once a month, 26 percent one or two days biweekly, and 34 percent three or more days biweekly; the total exceeds 100 percent because some regular teleworkers also telework situationally.

The report cautioned: “Telework frequency results should be interpreted very cautiously because of wide variation in agency methods for computing frequency of participation. For example, some agencies compute frequency by having employees self-report on their time sheets, while others analyze raw payroll data or rely on reports provided by their payroll providers. This variation, together with the complexity of assigning each routine teleworker to a single frequency category, may result in considerable measurement error and inconsistency.”

It said that employees sometimes incorrectly enter their hours as teleworking or not. Also, some agencies consider an employee on telework only if all working hours of the day were spent teleworking, others count it for any part of the day, and some use both methods.