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Old 06-04-2019, 09:37 AM
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Has telework improved production/quality?


In much of the federal government, the current trend seems to be to reduce telework. This is a significant change from just a few years ago, when the stated goal was to increase telework (and concomitantly, reduce workspace costs).

What is the current thinking as to the benefits/costs of telework?

My longtime understanding was that employers generally got more and higher quality work from teleworking employees, but I wonder if that remains the case. Has it been shown that telework is more appropriate for some categories of work than others?
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:45 AM
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It still seems to be popular here in the DC metro area, driven by our horrible traffic congestion and roads-that-used-to-be-ox-trails (i.e. they meander and severely limit routings).
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:54 AM
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Interesting. I work with one of the largest Fed agencies as an IT consultant. One of the solutions I've coded is for a Telework Agreement request applications. The dept policy continues to be for a pretty liberal Telework environment. A large proportion of workers are 100% remote. Is there a new directive from OMB that is prompting this change?

In my experience, Telework has been a great perk for the employees and perhaps a handful are more effective working from home. The majority just take advantage and productivity has suffered overall. That said, it seems to me that the bar on expectations of productivity has been lowered accordingly.
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:57 AM
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I don't understand how teleworking was ever thought to increase productivity. I'm a contractor for a government agency and people barely do work when they are here. Teleworking just reduces the amount of work that they do.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:03 AM
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Interesting. I work with one of the largest Fed agencies as an IT consultant. One of the solutions I've coded is for a Telework Agreement request applications. The dept policy continues to be for a pretty liberal Telework environment. ....
Hasn't been any clear word, but check out the negotiations re: the various union contracts. AFGE was the latest I read about.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:06 AM
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I don't understand how teleworking was ever thought to increase productivity. I'm a contractor for a government agency and people barely do work when they are here. Teleworking just reduces the amount of work that they do.
Yeah, that was always my personal expectation. The Dilbert meme of the worker at home in PJs, watching TV. But I read several reports suggesting that employees actually put in more hours and did better work when working remotely.

My idea was that employees likely thought teleworking a "bonus", so they put in extra effort to ensure that they kept getting it. And I imagine that as workers got more used to it as a "right", their at-home effort might slack off.
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Old 06-04-2019, 10:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Dinsdale View Post
My idea was that employees likely thought teleworking a "bonus", so they put in extra effort to ensure that they kept getting it. And I imagine that as workers got more used to it as a "right", their at-home effort might slack off.
I would agree with this.

Last edited by manson1972; 06-04-2019 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 06-04-2019, 01:49 PM
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Depends on the employee. I got a lot done at home because I had a lack of drive by interruptions, but I actually like being in the office.

My husband works only from home now - no office - and he doesn't slack off. One of the benefits to the employer of telework is that for my husband, there isn't really a start or end to the work day. There is the time he is on calls. There is when he travels. And then there are the hours he spends during the workday - and during evenings and weekends - writing and researching. So some days its a five hour workday - but far more frequently his work day starts when he used to get in the car for the commute and ends sometime after he used to get home - because there aren't the "everyone is leaving" triggers to stop if he's in the middle of something.
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Old 06-04-2019, 01:54 PM
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A friend of mine has people on his team that live all across the country. Telework is the difference between "any work" and "he's not employed there at all".

You could argue that the company could have hired locals instead, but presumably they believe that they're getting more out of the guys they have (at least relative to the costs of employing them).
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Old 06-04-2019, 02:06 PM
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I suspect that it's something of a wash. On the one hand, the teleworking employee isn't tired from commuting or dropping off children at child care, so should be able to do more. On the other hand, the teleworker could be distracted by the TV or the dog, so gets less done.

I work for the federal government and our agency hasn't moved away from teleworking.
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Old 06-04-2019, 08:02 PM
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Depends on the job. My daughter works in a company where her boss and most of the group are 800 miles away, so working from home three days a week doesn't hurt anything. When my son-in-law was in Vegas, he managed a group who was mostly in Russia. He offered to resign when they moved to Hong Kong, but his boss wanted him to stay since he would be closer to his reports.

On the other hand my job involved a lot of people dropping into my office, and working from home would have really decreased my efficiency.
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Old 06-04-2019, 09:52 PM
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There might be a difference in productivity between teleworking because you live 800 miles away, and teleworking in the local area.
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Old 06-04-2019, 11:35 PM
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I am a federal employee and telework two or three days a week. I find that almost without exception, I get more done at home due to fewer distractions. But my work is the type that doesn’t need any real face-to-face.

There is so much wasted time at the office with conversations (both work related and not) that there’s no doubt I get more done at home, even if I’m in my pajamas or sitting on the back porch.

Last edited by ski; 06-04-2019 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 06-05-2019, 12:10 AM
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Depends on the job.
I worked for the brand-new local branch of an IT company; the HR manager was a presencialista, one of those people who don't believe someone will do actual work unless that someone's boss is staring at them and who "recognize work when they see it" (thinking or having a brainstorming meeting doesn't count as work unless it's them doing it). His prior jobs had been for a chain of supermarkets and for one of car stores. Getting permission to WFH required, not only fulfilling the actual policies of the company and of your assigned projects, but climbing over this asshole.

How was my productivity improved by having to spend 55h/wk in the office for a theoretical workload of 40, actual of 1, and with my nearest coworker 800km away is always going to be a mystery to me. My nearest client was even further, some 1200km as the Google maps. Maybe that's why I don't work HR! (Actually, his subordinates were Actual Human Beings; hopefully he will have moved on.)




An expected consequence of a brand-new EU directive requiring all employees to clock in and out is that telecommuters and people who work "out of" but not "in" their official location (plumbers, cabbies and so many others) will have it much worse. There will be less possibilities to telecommute, because setting up telecommute systems will require setting up a different clock-in system than for people in the official location.

The directive is intended to increase recognition of overtime, but:
* it doesn't allow people to voluntarily give up the clocking (in Spain many companies had done this as a matter of convenience to everybody involved, it was widely considered a benefit)
* it requires companies which have just one employee to put in a system that satisfies both the vaguely-worded requirements and whomever gets to audit them,
* companies which currently refuse to recognize overtime will simply continue to refuse recognizing it, but apparently the people who came up with this bright idea have never worked at a place with a clock-in system and do not realize how many ways there are to falsify those records,
* and as soon as you indicate that "only effective working time" needs to be clocked (like some genius high-level Spanish bureaucrats have done), we just go back about 60-70 years, to that discussion we already had in the 1950s about whether time spent handing over to your replacement from the next shift counts as effective or not (it currently does, but presencialistas always think it shouldn't; note that they never work positions requiring handover times at the beginning and end of each shift).
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Last edited by Nava; 06-05-2019 at 12:15 AM.
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