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Five reasons why some feds would rather not telework

Make no mistake: The vast majority of readers commenting on telework stories in recent weeks clearly favor having the option to work from home on a regular basis. It’s not even close.

That said, we have noticed a handful of comments from readers who feel otherwise. Either they don’t see the attraction of a home office or they feel office work just comes with the job.

Granted, it’s a small sampling -- a handful comments, really -- but it’s enough to make us wonder if there might be other feds who would agree. What do you say? Is there anyone else out there who prefers not to telework, or actually opposes it? If so, why?

Meanwhile, here are the reasons we’ve heard so far:

1. Some office “distractions” are part of the job.

Many readers have said that they get more work done at home because do not get waylaid by coworkers wandering the halls. But RayW sees it differently.

“I 'waste' about an hour a day on the average helping co-workers with issues, it is not in my job description but I am a senior engineer (well, a journeyman under the GS system) with outside experience that is useful. If I teleworked I could get more work done, but the group would suffer.”

A former manager, and now senior staffer, agrees.

“While commuting is a pain, as a service provider, it is necessary to be in the office to be able to physically interact and mentally interact, one on one, with whoever is also left within the hallowed halls.”

2. Ah, home sweet home.

“Besides security and privacy issues, I do not want to telework,” writes one reader. “I like keeping my work and home life separate.”

‘Nuff said.

3. Too many security hoops to jump through.

For every network or security product that shows up on the market, a new threat appears as well. Access and security are forever at odds.

“Security on the network is so heavy that it takes a long period of time to get the work done and not cause problems with the applications that we work with,” writes an employee at the Agriculture Department.

4. It’s not a telework world.

Talk about a chicken-or-an-egg dilemma.

“Even my most productive telecommuters have items they must complete in the office,” writes a reader from Washington. “As long as face to face communications and paper documents remain part of the job, telecommuting will be at best only a partial solution.”

Which is to say that as long as so many people are not teleworking, would-be teleworkers will need to come into the office more often than they would like, which only reinforces the idea that telework is not a practical solution.

It’s enough to make my head hurt.

5. Some people just like to be in the office.

The self-described “Middle-aged Curmudgeon” might speak for more people than you might imagine when stating a clear preference for working at the office.

“We've specifically moved to where we can be near our work so we do not have long commutes,” the Curmudgeon writes. “We thrive in an office environment and know that, for us personally, telecommuting is a deterrent. If my agency forced me to telecommute or if I was the only one not telecommuting, I would find a job elsewhere.”


Posted by John Stein Monroe on Jul 21, 2010 at 7:25 PM

Reader Comments

Thu, Aug 19, 2010 WB

People miss the point of telwork, it is not to replace coming to the office but only releive people of having to come to the office everyday. I already dont have my sup in the same office and I believe that the only reason that many mgr's dont want telework is beause is will be difficult to justify all the office space that is presently being used.We can signifcantly reduce office space leases if they implement a useful telework program.

Thu, Aug 12, 2010 SF DC

We are too far removed from personal interaction already. Having to react to electronic direction and tasking 24/7 without regard for work in progress or personal schedule; stressing over reaction or overreaction to misinterpreted emails is prevalent. Look at the generation of kids that don't know how to play or make friends other than through an electronic device or game and you can imagine how we will be if the workforce is the same. How would Congress or corporate boardrooms run if everyone conferenced in?? How many people could play team sports by learning plays over a video conference and just meeting to play the game?? I believe more successful and creative work is accomplished by teams and teamwork does not mean simply accomplishing your specific tasks - you have to work together to accomplish common objectives. If we only work in a one-dimensional environment; satisfied with accomplishing only the tasks assigned to us, we will become a very sad and selfish workforce which will eventually lead to unconcern about people, the community, the country or anything outside our selfish interest. Community is essential in this nation; we need to prevent loss of the art of reading body language, collaboration, negotiation, and compromise that occur with day to day personal interaction. Fast-paced Americans certainly need down time and working close to home 1-2 days a week (like an alternate workplace) to avoid a terrible commute is a welcome reprieve for many, but personnaly, I want my home to be my family place, my resting and playing place, not a never-ending workplace.

Thu, Aug 5, 2010

Wiseguys, There is no energy saved, the lights are still on, the building temps are still kept, you will still 'run errands' AKA consuming fuel you would have used to get to work, so check in with reality. Furtehrmore, distractions, are part of work, thats how teams function. Deal with it.

Fri, Jul 30, 2010

The government being the largest employer we should take the lead on telecommuting. Why? We are not manufacturing anything that you have to physically be there. This will make a big impact on reducing our dependence on oil,energy consumption, air pollution, and just daily stress of commuting.

Thu, Jul 29, 2010 Ron

"Out of sight = Out of mind" - promotion only if your supervisor isn't telecommuting. If so he/she is probably measuring accomplishments by the work getting done according to plan and not by shared lunches and other "in office" interaction.

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