Managers still tepid about telecommuting

Most federal managers are "totally disinterested" in the concept of flexiplace, despite interest from many of the employees they manage, according to a new report. The report, Managing Telecommuting in the Federal Government, was issued by the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government.

Employees who telecommute said they enjoy the convenience, feel like they have more independence and believe they are more productive, according to the report. But they also reported feeling isolated from co-workers and complained about problems with providing their own work equipment, such as computers, software and phone lines.

Growing problems with traffic congestion, environmental concerns, and a greater focus on quality-of-life issues have made telecommuting a popular work alternative in government. According to an October 1999 General Services Administration report, about 26,000 federal employees work at home or at off-site offices, such as suburban telecommuting centers. The Treasury, Defense, Health and Human Services, and Labor departments have the most telecommuters.

A 1998 study by the Office of Personnel Management found that the majority of federal telecommuters are at the GS-12 and above levels. The work most suitable for telecommuting usually requires independent thinking, researching and writing, OPM found.

Authors Gina Vega, assistant professor of management at Merrimack College in North Andover, Mass., and Louis Brennan, a senior lecturer in business studies at the University of Dublin, said self-disciplined and independent employees are the best candidates for telecommuting. In supervising such workers, managers must take risks, trust employees to be productive outside of their immediate supervision and manage by results.

"Instead of demanding greater effort from employees, it is the responsibility of the teleworking manager to design new routes of success for teleworkers. Managers must not simply withdraw from view when the worker telecommutes, but must maintain an active role in assuring the worker's success in an autonomous location," the report said.

While telecommuting is often treated simply as an employee perk, Vega and Brennan emphasized that it also benefits management. "The telework initiative was introduced as a management benefit since teleworking is implemented as a management option," the report said.

Vega and Brennan suggested that agencies interested in telecommuting consult the Labor Department's manual on flexible workplaces as a guide.

Managing Telecommuting in the Federal Government and other PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment reports are available at

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.