Does Your Boss Hover or Rule By Remote

When it comes to managing your government office, does the boss hover (as in “want to have you and your colleagues in sight at all times”), or does he or she rule by remote control?

Does your agency offer teleworking and alternate work schedule options or is that door closed now and for the foreseeable future?

In an earlier column we talked about the new congressional drive to push teleworking and AWS. Many feds like the idea. But others say it won’t work in their shop. Or that their boss acts as the speed bump on the teleworking highway.

Most of the reponses came from workers at the IRS, Defense, Labor and Interior Departments, and GSA. The IRS employees who responded gave the teleworking program mixed reviews, although the majority said it was good and thriving.

Many feds and managers make the point that the purpose of teleworking is to get the job done, support the customers, not solely as a convenience for employees.

Today’s letters include a pushback from an FDA employee and then a DISA manager on what-it-takes to make teleworking work:

  • ” I take issue with the response from the Defense employee when he/she says, ‘It is the 25+ year bureaucrats (even those in IT) that are not amenable to its benefits because they ‘want to be able to put my eyes on you’ in the office.’ I am in my 31st year of federal service and of the 17 employees that report to me, everyone is offered telecommuting and AWS. All of them have the opportunity to take advantage of both programs. Currently six of the employees are in the office three days a week or less. I’m sure Defense Dept. wants their request for AWS to be considered on individual basis; supervisors are people too, and we’d like the same consideration that employees want.” Food & Drug Administration
  • “At DISA, we have a robust telework/AWS program… My experience as a supervisor is mixed, but mostly positive.

    “The problem is getting people to think and plan for what they will be doing on telework. Our jobs require access to information, and since the electronic files are not always readily available (or do not exist) folks need to make sure they have the tools with them. We are steadily, but perhaps not as quickly as needed, making our files and processes more electronic. I find that we sometimes have a problem getting access to other sources of material, but we identify that to the IT managers and they work with us to get us access.

    “What makes a positive telework experience for worker and supervisor:

    • Clearly understood assignments, due dates, and plan of action approved and reported on.
    • Appropriate information available on a secure source managed by professionals.
    • The right kind of electronic equipment
    • The best of network accesses– that means sufficient licenses, sufficient bandwidth and capabilities, up to date software and hardware
    • Collaboration tools that work
    • Phone access, we need a “skype” type system so that workers who are remote can get reliable and cheap access
    • An employee who is well trained, which means that not all new employees or interns will be allowed to telework until they understand what is expected of them
    • A supervisory style that isn’t dependent on physical hovering
    • Up the chain understanding that line of site taskings may have to become on line taskings
    • Employees who seriously work at home, rather than drift off on home tasks, babysitting, and other distractions, like brownie meetings.
    • Core hours adhered to… we have to support our customers and that means that you being on line at 5 am may be nice, but doesn’t get the job done
    • Acceptance that some work may have to be done face to face
    • Better training on written capabilities
    • Better email manners
    • Employee and supervisory availability

    “And recognition that there are just some folks who like to work in the office…and that they are not the ones who should pick up the slack for all the teleworkers who don’t make themselves available. Lots of Patience.” Defense Information Systems Agency.

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