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OPM Chief Thinks Telecommuting Has a Nice Ring to It

OPM Chief Thinks Telecommuting Has a Nice Ring to It

By Joe Davidson | Federal Diary, Washington Post

Deep inside the current swine flu scare, there may be a silver lining for federal employees — greater acceptance of telework in musty bureaucracies.

Although increased telecommuting has been a federal workplace goal for many years, statistics show a difference between theory and practice. Part of the problem has been managers who are reluctant to approve at-home working arrangements because they can’t see — which really means they don’t trust — staffers who aren’t in their cubicles.

John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, wants to change that mind-set. And the swine flu emergency provides a timely, if unfortunate, backdrop to showcase the need for agencies to continue government operations if circumstances make working in the office risky.

Saying “I’m here to put some giddyap into telework,” Berry yesterday announced a plan to boost telecommuting by federal employees.

Berry said his plan would:

— Convene an advisory group of telework program managers to develop government-wide standards for telecommuting.

— Direct agencies to submit telework policies for review against standards crafted by the advisory panel.

— Encourage each agency to establish a telework managing officer, who would ensure that telework policies are applied fairly and supported by agency managers.

— Encourage agencies to establish an effective and transparent appeals process for employees whose requests for telework or other flexible work arrangements are denied.

— Assure the provision of high-quality training to remove managerial resistance and to ensure managers and employees are trained and prepared to use telework successfully.

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