Program to let employees work where and when they want takes shape

An Office of Personnel Management official offered new details on OPM's workplace flexibility pilot program during a forum on telework in Washington on Thursday.

"If we only treat [workplace flexibility] as a perk for women, or a perk for people with disabilities, or a perk for anyone, there's ample opportunity to stamp it out," said Justin Johnson, deputy chief of staff at OPM, in reference to a program OPM Director John Berry announced during a White House summit on the issue last week.

The pilot, based on a results-only work environment model designed by Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler, will give 400 employees freedom to decide where and when they work, as long as they meet high performance standards.

The test group will consist of employees at OPM headquarters in Washington and at a field office in Boyers, Pa. The Pennsylvania workers process retirement paperwork, a task that is easy to measure, Johnson said, while the headquarters employees will work in areas where productivity is more difficult to quantify, such as communications. That diversity of tasks will allow OPM to assess how the pilot works across occupations.

Only five employees still regularly come in to a Pittsburgh call center that, while 21 others telework full time under a program started earlier, according to Johnson. The people still in the office have agreed to work from home permanently so OPM can close the office, he said. This will save more than $200,000 annually on expenses such as rent and utilities, which OPM can invest in telework technology, according to Johnson.

OPM managers and union leaders will collaborate to determine which work rules are stumbling blocks to true workplace flexibility, he said. OPM is running the pilot program without seeking demonstration project authority to waive certain provisions of personnel law, he said, requiring the agency to have serious conversations about whether rules such as paying employees an extra 25 percent on Sunday, even if that's a day they would prefer to work, hinder progress toward a results-only environment.

"What were the protections we put into place over time to make sure people were working all hours or weren't working schedules that made sense for them?" Johnson said. "If you gave individual employees the choice to work in the style that is best for them, which of those protections would become barriers?"

Arleas Upton Kea, director of the division of administration at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, speaking on a panel with Johnson, said experience taught her some protections were necessary to prevent workers on flexible schedules from overextending themselves.

"We found that we needed to check in on that and make sure they were adhering to some regular hours so they wouldn't suffer burnout," she said.

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:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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