Fedweek

OPM’s latest annual report on telework, covering fiscal 2017, showed a slight decline in participation from the prior year, adding that “situational” telework remains the most common form of telework and that it increased during that year compared with regularly scheduled telework.

The report, dated January but just released, shows that 43 percent of non-postal employees were deemed telework-eligible, up from 42 percent in 2016 but still below the 47 percent of 2012. The percentage of those eligible who actually teleworked at least once during the year had risen steadily from 2012’s 29 percent to 51 percent in 2016, before falling to 48 percent in 2017. In terms of the entire workforce, that was a decline from 22 to 21 percent after rising from 14 percent in 2012.

OPM said that one factor contributing to the decline is that there were fewer severe weather and other events triggering situational telework in 2017 than in 2016. It said that 50 percent of those who teleworked in 2017 did it only on a situational basis, while another 6 percent did it only once monthly, 28 percent one or two days per week, 32 percent three or more days per week.

However, as with prior reports, OPM warned against reading too much into the data, saying that agencies remain inconsistent in how they measure telework. It also noted that the results differ from the telework data from the annual federal employee survey, where 36 percent of employees reported some telework in 2017, up by two points over 2016, due to differences between agencies and employees in what is considered telework.

The period covered in the new OPM report precedes moves made in 2018 by several major departments to restrict telework, for example by limiting the allowed number of days per pay period.