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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • There are no Governmentwide restrictions on distance for teleworkers.  You should consult your own agency’s policy to determine whether your agency has its own restrictions. Teleworking from this distance may have an effect on duty station, if you are not physically present at your duty station at least two days in each biweekly pay period.  For more information, see Official Worksite, Travel, and Related Policies.
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  • Since the Federal telework program and policies cover only Federal employees, Federal contractors are not governed by OPM and GSA telework guidance or by individual agency policies, and are not counted in the annual Status of Telework in the Federal Government report to Congress. However, this does not prohibit – and should not prevent – contract employees from actually teleworking, as appropriate. Telework arrangements for contractors should be negotiated with both the contractor’s own employer and with the appropriate Federal agency official, so policies and procedures are in close alignment and all concerned parties are in agreement.  Telework language may even be integrated into the contract itself.
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  • Supervisors should not manage the performance of teleworkers any differently than non-teleworking employees. However, telework may require some changes in communication techniques, and managers will need to be mindful of the ways they assign and reward work to ensure they are equitable for onsite and teleworking employees.  The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 requires that teleworkers and nonteleworkers be treated the same for purposes of performance appraisal; training, rewarding, reassigning, promoting, reducing in grade, retaining, and removing employees; work requirements; or other acts involving managerial discretion.
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  • No, the agency is not required to visit the teleworker’s home to inspect it for safety and ergonomics, although agency policy may establish that a manager or other official has the right to do so.  For purposes of guidance, agency policies may include a self-certification safety/security checklist that managers may ask teleworkers to complete as a proxy for an onsite visit.  Additional information on this issue may be found on GSA’s website at http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104170.
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  • Yes. OPM provides web-based manager training modules, in accordance with the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. Training for managers is also available through OPM’s Eastern and Western Management Development Centers.  Details on the Development Centers and course schedules can be found at www.leadership.opm.gov.   Check with your agency telework coordinator or Telework Managing Officer to find out about any telework training your agency may offer, as well.
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  • Generally, each Federal agency will be responsible for the service and maintenance of all government owned equipment. Teleworkers using their privately-owned equipment (when allowed by their agency) are responsible for service and maintenance. GSA's FMR Bulletins provide additional guidance about telework equipment and technology.
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  • Each Federal agency sets up its own approval process, but generally the immediate supervisor must formally agree to a specific employee's request. Prior to beginning telework, the employee and manager must successfully complete an interactive telework training program and enter into a written agreement.  Contact your telework coordinator or Telework Managing Officer for details about your own agency’s process.
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  • Yes. OPM provides interactive, online telework training courses for both managers and employees, free of charge. Training for managers is also available through OPM’s Eastern and Western Management Development Centers.  Details on the Development Centers and course schedules can be found at www.leadership.opm.gov.
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  • The official definition of "telework" can be found in the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (the Act): "[t]he term 'telework' or 'teleworking' refers to a work flexibility arrangement under which an employee performs the duties and responsibilities of such employee's position, and other authorized activities, from an approved worksite other than the location from which the employee would otherwise work." In practice, "telework" is a work arrangement that allows an employee to perform work, during any part of regular, paid hours, at an approved alternative worksite (e.g., home, telework center).  This definition of telework includes what is generally referred to as remote work but does not include any part of work done while on official travel or mobile work. You may also be familiar with the terms "telecommuting" and "flexible workplace" and both are sometimes used to describe what we now generally refer to as "telework."  While "remote" and "mobile" work are also terms that are sometimes used as synonyms for telework, they tend to operate differently than telework as is apparent in the detailed operational definition.  For consistency, OPM recommends that all agencies use the term "telework" for reporting purposes and for all other activities related to policy and legislation, as defined in the Act.
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  • The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Act) requires that each Executive agency designate a Telework Managing Officer (TMO). Before the law was passed, most agencies fulfilled the day-to-day operational aspects of telework through a telework coordinator (with telework coordinators at the subagency level). The telework coordinator served as the key contact for policy and program questions. Many coordinators, however, had telework as a collateral responsibility without much authority or contact with senior leaders. The Act requires the TMO to assume these duties as the main agency official on telework matters. The TMO is a senior official of the agency, established within the office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), or its equivalent, and who has direct access to the head of the agency. Note that he or she does not need to be the CHCO. The important thing is that the position be given direct access to the head of the agency. We believe it is the intent of this legislation that the TMO be a strategic thinker and planner who will help the agency incorporate telework in a way that makes good business sense. The TMO is responsible for policy development and implementation related to telework programs; serves as an advisor to agency leadership; and is the primary point of contact with OPM on telework matters. In addition to making telework an integral way of doing business in the agency, the TMO will be responsible for helping with the development of goals and metrics in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. In designating a TMO, agencies should look for the same leadership competencies and high standards they would consider in selecting for any leadership position.
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