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Telecommuting Options in Government Jobs

Telecommuting Options in Government Jobs

Dan Woog / Monster.com

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has a reputation for secrecy and data protection. Yet that organization was one of the first in the United States – in either the public or private sector – to embrace telecommuting.

But the IRS is not the only arm of the federal government embracing telecommuting; many agencies have far outpaced the private sector in adopting this alternative work arrangement.

For those interested in telecommuting, here’s a closer look at what Uncle Sam provides.

Government Outpaces Private Sector in Adopting Telecommuting Policies

The government defines telecommuting – also called telework – as “the ability to do your work at a location other than your ‘official duty station’…on a routine, regular and recurring basis” one or more days a week.

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“We think of the federal government as the mother of all bureaucracies," says telework consultant Gil Gordon. "But it knows what telecommuting is, and it does it well.”

According to CDW Government’s third annual survey, federal government’s adoption of telework outpaces private sector adoption by a 3-to-1 margin. In 2007, 44 percent of federal employees surveyed said they had the option to telework, compared to 15 percent of those in the private sector. Sixty-two percent of federal agencies now have written policies covering telework.

Gordon notes that while the government operates in a different regulatory environment than private business – Civil Service rules control work practices, and many workplaces are unionized – the administrative process, training procedures and reactions to telework by managers and employees are all “very positive.”

Why Government Embraces Telework

The federal government got into telecommuting in the late 1980s, when the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) took a serious look at the arrangement. Early trials were conducted in half a dozen agencies, including the General Services Administration and Department of Defense. (As for the private sector, Gordon says, telework had been tried “in fits and starts” as far back as the ’70s.) At the same time, state governments studied telecommuting; California, for example, launched an innovative program for Sacramento employees in the ’80s.

Why?

For the same reasons as those of the private sector, says Gordon. Technology had advanced and many cities were grappling with problems of air quality, traffic congestion and related stress and tension.

Add to that the recent challenges of attracting and retaining top talent, and the reasons for offering teleworking arrangements to employees have continued to increase.

Where Telecommuting Is Most Prevalent

Right now, Gordon says, the best governmental workplaces for telecommuting are relatively small agencies, like the Patent and Trademark Office, and various units of larger organizations, including the Treasury, Health and Human Services and OPM.

Gordon adds: “What started in the federal government as an issue for office-based people working at home has morphed into a mobility issue for a much larger group, like field engineers, auditors, inspectors and IRS agents on the road.”

In fact, notes telecommuting consultant Joanne Pratt, so many workers are now so mobile, the definition of telework may be in flux. “People carry a lot of information with them wherever they go on devices like laptops. By law, some information is not allowed to leave an agency’s workplace, so government workers have to be sure they know the law.”

Proposing Telework

So how should you go about trying to secure a telecommuting arrangement within the federal government?

According to the government’s Interagency Telework Site – what Gordon calls “a one-stop shopping service for telework in government” – government workers worried about their superior’s reaction to a telework request should research their options thoroughly and then devise a comprehensive proposal that outlines the advantages to the organization. That proposal should also include a proposed schedule and list of tasks to be accomplished at home.

Pratt advises workers to write up a telecommuting plan just as they would any other business plan. “Keep it simple,” she says. “The focus should be on how you can have a positive impact on the workplace. Present the plan from the point of view of your supervisor – how it will help, not hinder, workflow, while meeting government goals.”

Of course, telecommuting is not for everyone. Some workers like the collegiality of the office; others know they do not work well independently, need close supervision or have a home that’s not conducive to work. But for more and more government workers, telecommuting is a great way to eliminate actual commuting.


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    isiahbitters

    over 3 years ago

    2 comments

    Telecommuting does not save on carbon. It just enables people to live further from work. Driving 3daysX50miles is more than 5daysX10miles. The further you live from urban work centers, the larger car and house, you'll have, buring even more greenhouse gases. And instead of finding transportation alternatives, you'll just drive more to work and at home based on UC Davis studies. And it is on beneficial for government where employees already have outrageous employee protections. It just encourages the bad seeds to telecommute and behave worse to protect their gravy train option.
    http://workhome.urbanup.com/5639955

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    sallies2

    almost 6 years ago

    6 comments

    PLEASE - how do I go about finding these types of jobs? We hear lots of good ideas and how it's working, etc. but it is hard to find the real thing. I have spent hours opening link upon link and ending up with bogus sites. I am a vet and a former federal employee and would love nothing better than getting back into the government in a telecommuting capacity. sallies2@yahoo.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dancermommd

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I would love to know where in the Federal government these telecommuting jobs are because i sure don't see it. If anything I see the feds with less telecommuting than private industry. Maybe it's just my job series but for the most part nobody telecommutes.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dharman

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Sounds great to me! I'd like to find out more about telecommuting. I have 30 years experience working in the Accounting/IT field. For the past 5 years I was able to work a flexible schedule with 2 to 3 days per week on a remote basis until the company was sold...ddharman@comcast.net

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    momokc

    about 6 years ago

    4 comments

    I had a started a suggestion for teleworking in my DOD job back in the late 1990's and showed it to a supervisor that was retiring. He said that it would cut out too many layers of management and it would never get past the first level for approval. I figured it would save the taxpayer approx $1 Bilion in a year's time. I think there are many jobs in DOD that are not teleworked now that should be really looked at. The biggest complaint I heard from managers is how could I tell that my employees worked 40 hrs? The biggest complaint from co workers is the social issues. In this time of economic depression, I believe we should be offering more teleworking to those who want it. We could use less office space and give the employees who wanted to work it and advantage to less out of pocket expenses also. I hope Obama will look seriously at making more jobs available for teleworking during his presidency. It is a great potential for saving the taxpayer money.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    momokc

    about 6 years ago

    4 comments

    I had a started a suggestion for teleworking in my DOD job back in the late 1990's and showed it to a supervisor that was retiring. He said that it would cut out too many layers of management and it would never get past the first level for approval. I figured it would save the taxpayer approx $1 Bilion in a year's time. I think there are many jobs in DOD that are not teleworked now that should be really looked at. The biggest complaint I heard from managers is how could I tell that my employees worked 40 hrs? The biggest complaint from co workers is the social issues. In this time of economic depression, I believe we should be offering more teleworking to those who want it. We could use less office space and give the employees who wanted to work it and advantage to less out of pocket expenses also. I hope Obama will look seriously at making more jobs available for teleworking during his presidency. It is a great potential for saving the taxpayer money.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    pfox9

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    "I am retired from the U.S. Air Force and have worked from home for the last 5 years, I would like to receive any information from you on getting started wtih a Government job working from home I know that the Government hires realestate specialist in many areas I have been working as a Quality Assurance rep and Building inspecto for more then 7 years. Please send any information you may have availible to: pfox9@yahoo.com"

  • Sda_max50

    Quincy

    about 6 years ago

    138 comments

    im retired major in kenya military forces live in mombasa kenya im interested to take the challenge please send me more information on how i can join telecommutin on deequintos@gmail.com

  • Dressed_for_church_max50

    billieancrum

    about 6 years ago

    4 comments

    Hello and thank you for this information. I am retired military (US Army) with 20 years of administrative and human resource experience. Please provide any information about telecommuting/teleworking to billiedixon@hotmail.com. Thank you very much.

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    Account Removed

    about 6 years ago

    Great! I'd like some more information on telecommuting as well. I have experience in telecommuting while being z programmer.

  • Bobcloseup1_max50

    aullman

    about 6 years ago

    4 comments

    With the cost of commuting (in time and fuel), it does not make sense for millions of people to drive 50-60 miles back and forth to work each day. It is true that some people have issues with a home telecommuting environment (inadequate infrastructure and feelings of isolation), but these people can work from telecommuting centers.

    The government has several centers around DC, and there are many centers available for private sector workers.

    http://www.remoteofficecenters.com is a free web site that lists remote office locations for government and private sector employees looking to work remotely.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    tmackey

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Please send me any information regarding teleworking for the government. I have experience in working from home within IBM - over 3 years - as well as being a team lead in the enterprise system hub with the global resources (Mexico, Brazil, UK, India, China, Japan, France & Hungary) and doing testing in the Web application and interfaces projects as a test analyst. Please send any information on how to get started to: tgmackey@earthlink.net. Many thanks for your assistance! I am looking forward to hearing from you and working with you! I am interested in working in either the Health & Human Services Department or IRS. I will send you my resume after I hear from you.

  • 081_81_1__max50

    peacebe

    about 6 years ago

    33902 comments

    Please send more information. Need to check this out. Thank you. Please e-mail this at MountofBeatitudes@yahoo.com Thank you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    mrpershing

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    26+ years in the military, now retired. I still have many productive years ahead of me. My kids are grown and I have a very conducive work environment from home with no distractions. Can you provide more specific information as to agencies in the States/federal government that are hiring people in a telecommute capacity? My email is nickzip@msn.com. Thank you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Blanche

    about 6 years ago

    10 comments

    I would like to receive more information for telecommuting. I'm a disabled veteran and it's hard trying to find a job especially now. I would appreciate any help you can give me.
    Contact information: blanche.smith@hotmail.com
    Thanks in advance

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