Pay & Benefits Watch Pay & Benefits WatchPay & Benefits Watch
Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.

Five Telework Tips


The 2010 Telework Enhancement Act is changing the workplace landscape. As government agencies establish policies for working outside the office, many employees are no longer bound to the standard 40-hour workweek under the same roof as their manager. 

This has its advantages. Telework can improve work-life balance, reduce the need for office space and real estate costs, curb absenteeism, and enhance recruitment and retention. Still, many managers are uncomfortable with this new office culture and worry about productivity. 

There is a happy middle, however, for teleworkers and their bosses. Here are five tips that can take the tension out of teleworking. 

Cover the Basics

Managers and employees both should know the parameters for working off-site—such as who has authority to approve telework and which employees are eligible—and sign agreements. Review agency policies, including terms and conditions, remote transmission of classified and sensitive information, reporting requirements and employee rights. Teleworkers should know what to do in case of emergency and be aware that they may temporarily have expanded roles and responsibilities if their co-workers can’t get into the office. Telework training for employees and managers is available at, an interagency website hosted by OPM and the General Services Administration.

Embrace Technology

Inadequate resources, inferior hardware and software, or lack of technological know-how can torpedo a teleworking arrangement. Managers should have an inventory of their agency’s information technology assets, as well as access to IT staff support. At a minimum, working remotely requires a computer, peripheral equipment such as a printer, copier, scanner, fax machine, telephone, Internet connectivity, secure network access and tech support, according to technology services provider Verizon Wireless. 

GSA has established guidelines for the equipment and support agencies should provide teleworkers. In addition, managers should be well-acquainted with a variety of communication tools, including instant chat, texting, Twitter, email, message boards, social media, and Skype or Google+. Videoconferencing is ideal because it enhances communication and fosters collaboration between remote workers and the office. If it’s not already in place, managers should push for high-quality video capabilities and the bandwidth to support it. 

Check in Regularly

Regular communication ensures everyone is in sync and teleworkers feel connected to their colleagues and agency projects. Frequent check-ins are crucial. Asking questions is a powerful, and often overlooked, communications tool. Managers can use the answers to organize assignments, adjust workflow, and troubleshoot potential problems. 

Make sure on-site employees are communicating effectively with teleworking colleagues. The Veterans Affairs Department, for example, has developed a Microsoft SharePoint website so managers and employees can easily access forms, documentation and updates. In addition, managers should schedule meetings with teleworkers to review any issues related to the telecommuting arrangement. 

Track Performance

No one is sure who said it first, but everyone agrees that what gets measured gets managed. Establish key performance indicators to gauge relevant outputs, service levels, outcomes of program activity and deadlines. Performance standards for off-site employees should be the same as those for on-site employees, according to the Merit Systems Protection Board. The board also recommends that managers give comparable assignments and maintain similar expectations for teleworkers and on-site employees.

Address Problems Immediately

Telework can shine a light on organizational weaknesses that should be addressed. Small issues can snowball and trigger big problems, so managers should be proactive and identify problems, show concern, and be specific and direct with solutions, advises. Provide clear instructions and deadlines, interim updates and regular feedback. Be prepared to enforce and reinforce telework policy to all direct reports. In addition, managers should be able to turn to a guideline in the policy or procedures manual to back up their actions. If a situation escalates, then this may be the time for a face-to-face meeting. 

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

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

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


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