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Frequently Asked Questions Telework

  • The provisions of the Telework Enhancement Act only pertain to Federal civilian employees as defined by 5 USC 2105.  However, there is no Federal statute or regulation that specifically prohibits Federal contractors from teleworking.  Generally, the decision to allow a contractor to telework would be made by the contractor’s supervisor and/or in conjunction with the contracting agency/office.

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  • Subject to the agency’s telework policy and operational needs of the organization, there is no restriction on how much flexibility may be allowed to teleworkers in this regard.  Since telework eliminates commute time, it may make sense for the teleworker to begin their work day earlier than they would otherwise.  However, the amount of flexibility will be determined by agency policy, collective bargaining agreements, and the business needs of the organization. 
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  • Yes.   A manager’s decision to deny a request to telework should be based on sound business management principles and not for personal reasons.  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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  • Teleworkers should be aware of:
    • Coping with interruptions and distractions — Often friends, neighbors and family members do not realize that a teleworker is working. Although an occasional, brief interruption may be welcome, teleworkers must learn to keep interruptions to a minimum.
    • Working long hours — Teleworkers need to be careful they do not slip into "workaholism." Some personality types have the tendency to work longer hours than usual when they are teleworking because they can focus so well on their work. Teleworkers should give careful consideration to the balance or integration of their work and personal lives to avoid burnout.
    • Exercising self-control — If teleworkers find themselves procrastinating, they should evaluate their work habits and make necessary changes to ensure productivity.
    • Designating space — A designated work area is recommended for teleworking. A separate work space may mean fewer distractions or interruptions and a higher level of discipline and organization.
    • Gaining support — A family's or supervisor's attitude may sometimes be detrimental to a telework arrangement. Teleworkers must work to gain the support and understanding of those around them.
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  • The answer depends.  Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility and the application process.  Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of their organizations. Some agencies may impose additional eligibility standards around tenure that may limit when an employee is eligible to participate in telework.  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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  • Generally, decisions regarding what equipment will be provided for teleworkers are made by the agency and individual manager consistent with the agency’s telework policy and applicable collective bargaining agreements.  We encourage managers to familiarize themselves with these guidelines and also their agency’s policy on equipment.  Within those constraints, the challenge is often finding the right balance between budget, security and effectiveness.  Factors to consider include technology needs based on the work of the employee, agency security requirements, and budget constraints.  

    The General Services Administration (GSA) provides guidelines for implementing and operating telework and other alternative workplace programs through the efficient and effective use of information technology and telecommunication.  Additionally, GSA provides basic recommendations for the equipment and support that an agency may provide teleworkers. 

    You can find more information in the GSA Guidelines for Alternative Workplace Arrangements.  For more information about your agency equipment policy for telework, please consult your agency telework policy or telework coordinator.
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  • Yes.  The Telework Enhancement Act allows for termination of a telework agreement if an employee does not comply with the terms of the written agreement and/or if the performance of the employee falls below a certain standard (usually fully successful).  Telework denial or termination decisions should be based on the operational needs of the organization and/or performance in accordance with the requirements of the Act and the agency’s telework policy.

    When deciding to terminate a telework agreement, a manager should be able to document and demonstrate that:
    • The employee’s teleworking directly and negatively impacts the employee’s performance or the performance of the work group/organization
    • Continuation of telework will interfere with remediation of the standards such as the employee’s ability to attain or return to a fully successful performance level.
    Also, as a general rule, a manager’s termination of a telework agreement 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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  • Agency telework policies establish the basic guidelines for telework eligibility and the application process. Within this framework, managers and supervisors generally have discretion to implement telework to fit the business needs of their organizations. You can work with your telework coordinator to fully understand the relevant policies and procedures. If you are eligible by the terms of the policy and have followed proper procedures, your telework coordinator can help you write a business-based proposal to submit to your manager.
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  • Yes, the Telework Enhancement Act requires every employee who participates in telework to have a written agreement, regardless of the type of telework.
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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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