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Strategies for Managing Teleworkers' Performance

Strategies for Managing Teleworkers' Performance

As more and more Federal workers telework, their managers are concerned with how to effectively manage their tele-workers. Department of Transportation and the Department of Energy have had teleworkers since 2002. Both agen-cies discuss the following strategies for managing teleworkers effectively.

  • telework goals,
  • the right employee for teleworking,
  • the right position for teleworking, and
  • effective performance management.

Telework at Transportation

The Department of Transportation identified two goals of telework: achieving organizational effectiveness and accomplishing the work of the office and the mission of the agency. For example, teleworking reduces traffic congestion and cuts commuting costs both goals are consistent with Transportation's mis-sion.

Transportation identified the right employee for teleworking as one who participates voluntarily, works independently, has at least a fully successful rating, and requires minimum supervision. Supervisors should review potential telework positions on a case-by-case basis because not everyone classified to the same job series actually does the same work.

At Transportation, supervisors and employees plan work using a work agreement. The agreement identifies as-signments, communication methods, the work schedule, and more. For instance, it specifies how often the em-ployee should check email and voice mail. Supervisors monitor teleworkers at regular meetings. They discuss performance, address performance issues, and cancel work agreements, if necessary.

Supervisors also need to develop and reward their teleworkers. They should continue to offer teleworkers training and more responsibility. Supervisors should recognize teleworkers as they do other employees by offering monetary or honorary awards, new duties, and encouragement.

Three keys to managing teleworkers are —

  • communicate with teleworkers and their co-workers,
  • when necessary, say no to teleworking in writing, and
  • cancel work agreements permanently or temporarily as needed.

Telework at Energy

The Department of Energy highlighted desirable telework goals including - energy savings, cost savings, and promoting the Administration's e-Government agenda.

Supervisors should keep in mind the characteristics of an employee when determining whether the person is suitable for telework. For example, the employee who relates to others may need to be around people. That employee may feel isolated working from a remote location and may not be right for telework.

Supervisors should review all positions for telework. Positions that include tasks that can be measured or result in specific work products may be suitable for telework. Positions that require face-to-face meetings may not be appro-priate.

Supervisors also need to plan teleworkers' performance. They should plan work with results-oriented standards, make tasks "do-able at a distance," and develop action plans with timetables. Teleworkers should not be held to a higher production standard solely because they are teleworkers.

Dealing with the poor performer is one of the most difficult issues for telework. Supervisors should look at conduct and performance issues separately. They should consult with the teleworker to find the causes of and solutions for performance problems. Taking someone off telework will not necessarily address the performance problems.

Some handy reminders are —

  • Telework is just another way of doing business.
  • Telework is not a privilege or a right.
  • Telework can be flexible.
  • Telework cost savings can be measured.
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