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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • The answer will depend largely on the requirements of your individual agency, the agency telework policy, and your manager.  The telework agreement should specify what equipment and/or expenses will be covered by the agency, employee, or shared.  Many employees find the opportunity to telework is so worthwhile they will choose to use their own personal equipment when equipment is not available from their office.  Many agencies also have computers that people can take home.
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  • There should be no significant difference between managing the performance of a teleworker and managing the employee who works in the office.  Each employee should be appraised against his or her performance standard(s), despite location.
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  • The key difference between the telework relationship and the in-office relationship is your manager cannot see what you are doing when you are working at home.  It all comes down to trust.  You can take a number of simple steps to earn your manager’s trust by:
    • Doing your best work
    • Completing work assignments on time
    • Pitching in to help when needed (it is important to continue to be a team player even when teleworking)
    • Volunteering for projects
    • Working independently without the need for close supervision
    • Keeping your supervisor and co-workers informed about what you are working on and what you have accomplished
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  • The TMO designation is new with the passage of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. The TMO is a single person at each agency who is ultimately accountable for that agency's telework program. This position is meant to be a high-level advisor to the agency leadership, a resource on telework issues for managers and employees, and is responsible for policy development and implementation related to the agency's telework program. The way agencies implemented telework before the law was passed was that each agency had a "Telework Coordinator" at the Department/Agency level (e.g., Department of Homeland Security), and also individual "telework coordinators" at the subagency/subcomponent level (e.g., Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration, etc.). Whenever OPM would require agency-wide information on telework such as for the annual aggregate data collected on telework participation, it would work with the single point of contact at the Department/Agency-level. The agency-wide coordinator would then work with his/her subcomponent "coordinators" to gather the information for their respective areas and then would tally everything to submit the data in a single report to OPM on behalf of the entire agency. The TMO position more closely resembles what was formerly the Department-level "Telework Coordinator." This means the role within an agency of pulling together information on telework from various internal sources and then reporting to OPM now falls on the TMO. However, the responsibilities of the TMO extend beyond operational day-to-day aspects of telework and delve more into policy, advising, and an overarching management of the entire telework program for his/her agency. Agencies have discretion to determine whether or not, or how, they will continue to utilize "telework coordinators" to implement the day-to-day aspects of the agency telework program subject to the oversight of the TMO. The bottom line, however, is that each agency will have only one individual, the TMO, who is the single accountable person according to the law for the agency's telework program. In other words, when OPM contacts any given agency in the future to either request or disseminate information on Federal telework, we will contact the TMO. It will then be up to the TMO to coordinate internally with other staff members assisting with operational telework issues in that agency. Human Resources staff or agency employees that have questions or issues about telework should be encouraged to direct their concerns to the agency's TMO or the TMO’s designee.
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  • It depends on the provisions the agency chooses to use in taking the performance-based action. If the agency uses the appraisal provisions, an opportunity period must be provided. If the agency uses the adverse action provisions, there is no specific requirement for an opportunity period.
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  • Sometimes teleworking does not work.  If a teleworker's quality of work declines, treat it as you would any performance issue.  Review the telework agreement and give your employees a chance to improve.  Your telework agreement should include a clause stating that either the manager or the employee can cancel the telework agreement for operational or performance issues.
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  • No.  The statute requires that each employee be appraised against his or her performance standard(s).  It does not allow for appraising an employee by "presuming" that an employee is meeting performance standards.  For the same reason, the process for appraising employees described by the regulations does not provide for any "assumed" levels of performance.
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  • The certificate is accessed at the completion of the Employee Telework 101 Module 5 – Game. Simply go to the end of Module 5 and you will come to the dialog box that reads:  Certificate of Completion.  You should then be able to fill out your information and print the certificate.  If that does not work, another option is to try this link to print your certificate.
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  • When a telework program is implemented properly and the teleworker selection process is clear and objective, any possible negative effects on the morale and productivity of non-teleworkers can be minimized.  It is important to clearly communicate to all employees that teleworkers are selected on the basis of their job functions and their work performance characteristics. It is also critical that an employee's telework arrangement does not increase other employees' workloads. When management does not handle the transition carefully, objectively and transparently, jealousy and resentment can arise from non-teleworkers who mistakenly believe that teleworkers are not really working.  In other instances, co-workers are not interested in teleworking, but respect those who do.  Managers need to ensure that all employees are treated equitably when it comes to expectations and performance, regardless of where they are working.  Employees who telework more than two or three days per week should be encouraged to visit the office in order to maintain personal relationships with colleagues and supervisors.  As with any organizational change or shift, communication is the key to its success!
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  • No.  Both a performance rating and a rating of record involve the evaluation of an employee's performance against all the elements and standards in the performance plan.  At any time during the appraisal period, a manager can make the determination that an employee's performance is unacceptable on one or more critical elements.  This determination is sufficient to begin the process that could lead to a performance-based action if the employee's performance fails to improve to an acceptable level.
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