Is teleworking really working or does it need a reset?

The program that allows hundreds of thousands of federal employees to work from home is highly popular with the hundreds of thousands of federal employees who are allowed to work from home — no brainer.

But what about with feds stuck in the office? And what about the customers that civil servants — both teleworkers and the office-bound — are there to serve? Does it benefit them, and what does it do, if anything, to the relationship between office-workers versus stay-at-home workers?

Some agencies, like the Agriculture Department, are cutting back on the number of days employees are allowed to work from home. Others are revisiting the program.

The March 28 Federal Report column talked about agency plans to revisit the program, and maybe ramp it down a little. Frank Landefeld of MorganFranklin was also our guest that day on Your Turn with Mike Causey. He is an expert on business development who works with federal agencies on issues such as teleworking.

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Bottom line: He thinks it teleworking is beautiful, when managed property, and is not only here to stay but will be expanding. Not everyone agrees.

A Social Security employee said “to say there are no cons [to teleworking] is unbelievable. Most of the individuals in our office that don’t telework are going to retire within two years. Who in the world is going to call numbers? This topic gets me upset but that is the future. Smaller office spaces and smaller offices.

“How does it help Social Security applicants if a quarter of the staff is teleworking and 35 individuals are waiting in the lobby, and its 3:15 p.m. and the office closes at 4 p.m.? There is no oversight on these teleworkers. What [is] saving these teleworkers is overtime! How is this cost effective to the taxpayers? Telework might work at some agencies but not all.” –Big E

Another cited the social or anti-social side of teleworking. He wrote:

“…it is important that Millennials rub elbows with Baby Boomers frequently. I also think Millennials and Baby Boomers and everything in between should rub elbows on a regular basis.” –Henry B.

One long-time fed said “the government has lost sight of the purpose of teleworking which was to reduce traffic, reduce use of sick leave, save the government office space and, last-but-not-least, to produce happier more productive employees. Instead it’s been turned around as a perk for employees with little thought to their mission and service to our customers. We should be doing this for [the public] rather than consider it some sort of inalienable right!” –I Thought I Was Supposed To Serve The Public