The number of federal workers participating in telework has been steadily increasing, among those eligible. In 2014 and 2015, 44 percent of eligible workers participated in the telework program. From 2013 to 2015, participation increased from 39 to 46 percent of eligible employees and from 17 to 20 percent of all employees.
Many agencies haven’t revisited their eligibility requirements since they first launched the telework programs, so tracking this data has become difficult. Now, agencies are moving toward an automated data collection system that should make this easier. Sixty-one percent of agencies rely on data from time and attendance systems alone while 8 percent use and time and attendance system plus customized tracking. However, this varied approach in data collection creates challenges in reporting. OPM is planning to automate and collect information of federal employees’ usage and eligibility on a biweekly and monthly basis. They will use the Enterprise Human Resources Integration (EHRI) system to accomplish this.
“This gets us all on the same page in terms of a method, a process [and] the standard types of data,” OPM says.
Agency managers recognize the value of telework and try to use it as an incentive to recruit and retain talent. Telework is also a great option for those who have a medical or family emergency and need more flexibility. Other agencies say they realize there are positive impacts of the program such as the organizations’ environmental footprint.
OPM has also reminded agency leaders that performance standards for teleworking employees should be the same as non-teleworkers. To avoid inconsistencies between the two groups, agencies should discuss expectations of the program. “Like non-teleworking employees, teleworkers are held accountable for the results they produce. Good performance management techniques practiced by the manager will mean a smoother, easier transition to a telework environment”, OPM states.