DorobekINSIDER Live: Tools of Telework

A special edition of GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER today. We're LIVE! It's the eighth time we’ve met and we are doing this at least once each month this year. The idea is simple: get smart people together and share ideas because we believe that the real power of information comes when it is shared.

LISTEN to the broadcast here:

One of my big frustrations with telework is it sometimes feels like we keep having the same conversation over and over again. Yet telework may be one of the Issues of the Year.

There was much discussion earlier this year when the new CEO at Yahoo, Marissa Mayer put an end to telework at Yahoo -- an IT company. Her argument: The company needed to focus on collaboration and innovation and they couldn’t do that with also having a telework program.

Earlier this year, the DorobekINSIDER had a series of conversations about telework that tried to get outside of the same old conversation. We are going to try to continue to do that today.

DorobekINSIDER Live Panel:

  • Kate Lister, President, Global Workplace Analytics & the Telework Research Network
  • Jackie Nowicki, acting director, GAO
  • Steve Mattis, HP marketing manager for public sector
  • Emily Jarvis, producer of GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER and the author of The GovLoop Guide: Agency of the Future: Telework More Than a Trend – A Workplace Transformation

Telework: Where are we now?

Lister: We are moving right now from telework as a tactic to telework as a strategy. With budgets the way they are now, the cost savings that telework can offer are finally pushing more agencies to implement telework. But there are still some areas that need to change if telework is going to catch on. First government has to invest in new technologies. I was at an event recently, where I swear the presenter from government was using a steam powered laptop. It was that old and non-functioning. We also have to move the way we manage.

  • We need results based management
  • Better and more stringent training
  • Teleworkers themselves need to be accountable for their work. The hidden asset of telework is that when you move to results based management is that you see how are the clear poor performers. They can't hide in the crowd.

Nowicki: Telework isn't new at GAO. Up until recently, employees were allowed to telework up to 50% of their schedule. Now we have expanded telework in our field offices. By expanding telework we have been able to save 40% on office space in Boston and 50% on office space in San Francisco. That amounts to a huge savings. The pilot has worked so well in those two field offices that we have expanded it to almost all of our field offices across the country. The transition to telework was made easier because we were already working in teams located around the country. So we were used to communicating virtually. We also really emphasize training. We hold classes on how to manage in a virtual environment. Managers need to ask their employees the right questions:

  • Are the projects teleworkers are assigned being completed?
  • Are projects done in a timely manner?

Mattis: I've been teleworking for five years and it does force you to do things differently. But there are major benefits in doing things differently. Take meetings for example, when you have people attending a meeting virtually it forces you to stay on track, because you can't have side conversations or tangents because the teleworkers can't participate. So the virtual aspect makes meetings more focused.

  • You also want to ensure that your devices are secure. You can use many different types of security, whether it's VPN or hard disk encryption.

There has also been an app explosion and that explosion is only pushing us more towards mobility. Chat, Skype, WebX all these things are pushing us more and more towards mobility. I think in the next few years we will even see more apps designed specifically for this group of teleworking employees.

Panels Tips for Teleworkers

  • Set reminders to reach out to different people on the team to connect.
  • Set working hours for teleworkers. These set hours don't need to be 9-5, but the schedule needs to be clearly communicated to other team members.
  • Since teammates could have varied schedules, you need to set up response norms. If you receive and email at 11pm you don't have to respond right away.
  • Try to coordinate work from the office days. If you are a regular teleworker, try to go to the office when your other team members will be present.
  • Try to attend professional development and trainings together as a team.
  • Get dressed for your day. You don't have to wear a suit, but for most people getting dressed indicates the start of the day.
  • Be transparent with your calendar. Let people know when are the best and easiest ways to reach you.
  • Highlight the work by teleworkers to managers and senior leaders so they are not left behind.

Did we miss some teleworking tips? Send them our way. 

Also don't miss GovLoop's latest Guide: Agency of the Future: Telework More Than a Trend – A Workplace Transformation


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