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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

    bWoolard

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a Former Federal Government Employee. I am trying to regain work with the Federal Government. I have a status of GS-5/03 with 9.5 years in service. If you have anything in Greenville, North Carolina or withing a 20 mile radius, please E-Mail me at the following: ladywoolard@yahoo.com

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    jleadford

    almost 6 years ago

    2 comments

    What little information I've been able to gleen from my research, you have to already have a federal job then propose to your supervisor that it be converted to telework. See the following link: http://www.opm.gov/pandemic/agency2a-guide.pdf. It appears that it is the employee who proposes and the supervisor may deny the request but there is recourse if the employee feels that the proposal was unfairly denied or cancelled which it can be.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    r4s4b8

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    just the kind of work i'm looking for , please get back , i'm robin email is r4s4b8@gmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    dknight

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I would certainly like to receive more information in regards to available positions and locations.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    meierpenny

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a Navy wife with 4 kids at home and it is hard dealing with the expensive child care costs and gas prices but we are still needing the second income, If people are getting information about working at home for the government, I would be greatly interested also. I have been searching for a month for a job that will cover what is needed extra for the home and childcare and gas and I am not having any luck. Also I have a degree in Paralegal studies if that helps. My email is meierpenny@att.net. Thank you!!!!

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    shar2den

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I currently work for a local government agency. I'm very interested in this type of job. Please send me more information. My email address is dward012@comcast.net. Thank you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    burchj

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I have been searching for this type of employment. I work in accounting. Please send me more information. My email is burch.julie@yahoo.com. Thank you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    KOKAMOJO

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    HI , I'M A FORMER FEDERAL EMPLOYEE.I'M CURRENTLY UNEMPLOYEED AND TRYING TO REENTER GOVERNMENT EMPLOYMENT. I HAVE GS4/06 STATUS WITH 10YRS OF SERVICE. JUST NEED TO GET MY FOOT BACK IN THE DOOR.PLS EMAIL ME AT MRSJO2@YAHOO.COM WITH ANY INFO OR CONTACTS FOR CHICAGO AREA....

  • Image012_max50

    nycutieatl

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    HI. I am a mother of five my at home job options have run out. If this is legite please email me some more info. simoneflood@yahoo.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    ruckess

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am a mother of 3 and it is not only hard to find good child care but also expensive. I have checked into work from home ads and promotions but you never know what is legite or will actually work to your benefit. I would like to receive information on working from home for the federal government. Please send me this info.. my email is kbnchow@sbcglobal.net

  • Mamma_max50

    kekolbe

    about 6 years ago

    4 comments

    I'm there! I've been looking for something to do from home but it all seems to just be a scam that takes up my time and still leaves me broke, sometimes more so than when I started! I'm a hard worker that has a job and goes to school but I still need something to help out while I go on and finish my education...who knows, maybe I'll like working online more than I like being a nurse and just stay where I am at home and work!!!

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    Christel

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I would love more informaiton about workin from home for the government.Christel_garner@sbcglobal.net. My husband is about to finish his commitment to the navy on December 31,2008.

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    kimberlychristian

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I would like more information about workin from home for the government. kacj@bellsouth.net

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    Sandraramsey

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Same here , could I please get some more information on this also?

    sandra.ramsey@us.army.mil

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    kumar_rajesh4u

    about 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I would like more information and how to get started working from home for the government. My email address is: kumar.rajesh4u"gmail.com

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