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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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    billieancrum

    over 6 years ago

    4 comments

    I am a retired US Army administrative specialist. Please keep me informed of these type of jobs. billiedixon@hotmail.com Thank you.

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    jcsmith

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I would like more information on how to find these jobs. rysol@hotmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Ramona

    over 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: jramona55@yahoo.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    MeToo

    over 6 years ago

    6 comments

    I have over ten years of experience in MSWord, which includes professionally crafted documents and forms, and merging with MSAccess for multiple mailings. My skills from my home office would be an excellent benefit to you, because I enjoy the work - which guarantees your satisfaction of meeting deadlines and getting outstanding results. My e-mail address is fuzzibradt@comcast.net

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    jeffkoeppen

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I have evenings off and 3 day weekends. I am interested in more info please. jckoeppen911@cox.net or jeffrey.koeppen@riquon.ang.af.mil Thank you

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    pittypat

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    this sounds good but how can i have a government job at home what is the catch and how much will it cost me

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    yvette

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    This sounds very interesting and would like more information on how i can get interview and employed with the Federal Government telecommuting.

    Yvette Ebanks

    Yaknowda@gmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    mbollinger7

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am very interested in government telecommunication! How do I get more information and where do I apply? Very good article! mbollinger7@hotmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    praloy

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I think it is a great opertunity to make such income. I am very interested to do it. how can I apply for such types of jobs? praloy.ghosh@gmail.com.

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    happyface

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    please send information on telecommuting and the government agencies that allow it. acnbl@aol.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Routh1122

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am interested in receiving information on how to begin telecommunicating. Please forward information to Routh1122@aol.com. Thank you.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    helen

    over 6 years ago

    4 comments

    Hello. My name is Helen, and I am very much interested in receiving information on how to telecommunicate for one of your governmental agencies. My email addresses are: hellen.james@gmail.com or starlashiris@yahoo.com, and you may call me if you like at, 225-778-7254. Thank you.

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    Tawny

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Please send me information about telecommuting.I have been looking for opportunities to expand my horizon's. It would be a great change.
    tawlei@hotmail.com

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    msmahogony54

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I am very interested in working from home and this sounds like it would not only be a great job opportunity but a rewarding one as well ,please send me more information about the telecommuting position and how i can apply for it and any other home opportunity as soon as possible i'm ready to get started!

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    angeles105

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Could you please send me more information about telecomumuting jobs at mrodz_arodriguez@yahoo.com.

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