Federal Manager's Daily Report

The OPM telwork survey found that only about 14 percent of

federal employees eligible to telecommute do so–and that

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about two-fifths of those do it only on a situational basis

rather than a regular basis–underscored once again how

difficult a time the government is having in promoting

telework. The OPM report is the latest in a series showing

that despite years of urging by that agency, the General

Services Administration and Congress, there is still

management resistance to telecommuting.


The most frequently reported barrier to telework in the 2003

survey was the nature of the agency work, followed by office

coverage challenges, data security, management resistance,

and funding for equipment and information technology, OPM

said. In response, agencies to varying extents provided

training to employees and managers on telework, initiated

marketing of telework through promotional materials,

undertook initiatives to gain top management support of

telework, established regular reporting mechanisms for

tracking teleworkers, and increased their budgets for IT

support.


OPM also conducted six focus groups with supervisors and

managers in three cities designed to move beyond the

concept of “management resistance” and explore the obstacles

managers might encounter as they sought to implement

telework in their organizations. Commonly expressed concerns

included the productivity and accountability of teleworkers,

the need to address the IT technology requirements for

supporting telework, the cost of supporting such

arrangements, and supervisors’ or fellow managers’ lack

of comfort with telework.


OPM added, however, that managers were reluctant to say

“no” to a request to telework, preferring if possible to

give an employee a trial period as an objective test of

his or her readiness for telework.