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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • 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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  • Most agency telework policies and many collective bargaining agreements will include procedures for establishing telework agreements, obtaining equipment, and related matters.  Managers should familiarize themselves and their employees with their agency’s telework policy and applicable collective bargaining agreements to ensure compliance.
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  • Yes.  Denials should be based on the requirements of the Telework Enhancement Act, individual agency telework policies, applicable collective bargaining agreements, and the business and operational needs of the organization.  Remember, telework is not an employee right or entitlement.  Although the intent of the Act is to promote the use of telework, agencies have the flexibility to determine participation based on the specific needs of the organization.  Decisions to deny a request to telework should be based on sound business management principles and not for personal reasons.

    Also, as a general rule, a manager’s denial of a telework request should follow some basic principles:
    • Be in writing
    • Provide an explanation
    • Be timely
    • Follow agency policies and procedures for denial/termination of telework requests
    • Include any appeals/grievance procedures available to the employee
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  • The telework agreement provides the framework for the discussion that needs to take place between the manager and the employee about expectations.  For all types of telework, this discussion is important to ensure that managers and employees understand one another’s expectations concerning maintaining communication with the office and what will be done to meet contingencies.  If the teleworker is needed, he/she may be asked to come into the office on a scheduled telework day.
    If the employee is required to come into the office, the telework agreement should outline  the expectation regarding the amount of notice (if any) should be given for reporting to the official worksite, and how  such notice will be provided.  For further information, please consult your agency telework policy.
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  • Not necessarily. The Act states the head of the agency may provide for an exemption from the training requirements "if the head of the agency determines that the training would be unnecessary because the employee is already teleworking under a work arrangement in effect before the date of enactment." The bottom line is that employees who have already been teleworking may be exempted from this training requirement; however, the decision to waive this training requirement must be made by the agency head and implemented in the manner that is normally done in your agency.
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  • Federal hiring authority and decisions are made at the individual agency level.  The Governmentwide office for the Federal telework program does not maintain information about Federal job opportunities or a listing of Federal positions that are eligible for telework.  As required by the Telework Enhancement Act, each Federal agency establishes its own telework program authorizing employees to telework, including determinations about eligibility.  

    For more information about Federal job opportunities please visit the USAJOBS website.
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  • There is no current prohibition in Federal law or regulation that says an employee who engages in telework is not eligible to participate in an alternative work schedule.  Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility.  Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have the discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of the organization.  For more information, please refer to your agency telework policy, contact your agency telework coordinator,or visit your agency HR Department.

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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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  • This is a common myth, but implemented properly, a telework program should not cause any extra work for non-teleworkers.  Teleworking and non-teleworking employees must understand expectations regarding telework arrangements including coverage, communications and responsibilities.  Also, managers should avoid distributing work based on “availability” by physical presence to avoid unfairly burdening coworkers who do not telework. Keep in mind good performance management practices are essential for telework to be effective and equitable.  For more guidance on performance management, please see OPM's Performance Management page.
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  • A successful telework program can improve organizational efficiency, raise the quality and quantity of work, boost employee morale and job satisfaction, and lower your employee turnover rate.  In addition, the enhanced communication that a telework program fosters can further develop your own skills as a manager.
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