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Telecommuting on the Rise among Federal Government Employees

An online survey of telework managing officers in agencies conducted in May has found that 32 percent of federal employees now engaging in teleworking, six months after President Barack Obama signed legislation that will expand the use of telecommuting across the federal government sector. Employers were obliged by law to inform workers Tuesday whether they are eligible for this privilege.

The legislation signed by Obama last year requires federal agencies to institute policies that allow eligible employees to work remotely and to include telecommuting options in emergency contingency plans. These provisions do not apply to employees such as park rangers and medical doctors who must report to specific work sites to conduct their business. The Obama administration cited cost savings and environmental benefit amongst the benefits of the program.

The long-term success of this new trend remains to be seen: Although two-thirds of telework managers said the program is making a significant positive impact on job satisfaction, the same could not be said about productivity, performance, energy use, recruiting and retention. The most recent OPM report on teleworking found that only 6 percent of all federal employees do so in cases where a formal set of terms and agreements between employees and their supervisors have been established.

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