Fedweek

Many federal employees still are denied the opportunity to telework even though their positions would be suitable for it, nearly a decade after a 2010 law requiring agencies to make telework available unless certain exceptions apply.

The survey showed that 43 percent of respondents said they telework at least some of the time, although 14 percent said it was only “very infrequently on an unscheduled or short-term basis”—so-called situational telework. Another 6 percent said they telework only one or two times per month; 16 percent one or two days per week; 5 percent three or four days per week; and 2 percent full-time.

Of those who telework, 60 percent were satisfied or very satisfied, 19 percent dissatisfied or very dissatisfied and the rest neutral.

Among those who don’t telework, 27 percent said it was because their job requires they be physically present and 4 percent said that technical considerations prevent it—the types of exceptions the law allows for. But 13 percent said it’s because they didn’t receive approval even though the job would allow it. Another 12 percent said they could telework but choose not to.

The data in the annual survey differ somewhat from the annual government-wide reports on telework, partly because of differences in definitions of what qualifies as telework. The government-wide report for many years has identified managerial resistance as a main barrier to expanded telework.

OPM recently once again urged agencies to use telework along with other work-life balance programs even as several agencies—most recently the SSA—have moved to cut back its availability, commonly under provisions that previously were negotiated with unions.