President Obama, the self-titled Teleworker-in-Chief, declared at a recent workplace flexibility forum that “work is what you do, not where you do it.”
It’s no wonder then that out of every possible work sector, the Federal Government takes the crown for workshifting. Although they don’t have the most remote workers, their numbers have been growing the fastest, and to top it off, they have the highest participation rate among their employees.
The Feds have the Telework Enhancement Act to thank for this surprising growth. Passed back in December, the Act just had its first deadline recently: all government employees were to be told of their eligibility status for workshifting.
That’s quite the step. Imagine if your employer told everyone who could workshift (around 45 percent of the total workforce) that that they could now do so? We’d likely see change just as fast as what the government is experiencing.
To make things easier for everybody, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) recently released a guide to teleworking. The 40 pages of light reading explain just what the agencies should do to fully implement workshifting policies of their own.
For everyone else, the guide is an excellent resource for what you can expect from a comprehensive workshifting policy. It covers all the bases, from explaining how to workshift regularly to describing the specifics of manager-employee agreements.
Since the government has already done the work for everyone, both current and prospective workshifters should take advantage of this manual the best they can. Here are a few quick tips from the guide.
Clear and usable policies
A teleworking policy should be written simply with familiar words, so staff across every department can easily understand it. The policy should also explain the steps to implement workshifting, the responsibilities of those involved and the day-to-day operations themselves.
Eligibility and participation
Instead of suggesting a generic one-size-fits-all category for who is eligible to workshift, managers should base their decision on employee performance – and refuse poor performers.
A training website has been provided by OPM to help both employees and managers understand the new practice. And fortunately, Telework 101 is open for everyone to use.
Make the agreement renewable, and include items such as the work schedule the employee will follow, responsibilities, information security and equipment needed. A signed agreement should be mandatory.
Managers and employees should have an actual face-to-face discussion before starting a workshifting arrangement to settle each other’s expectations. And while workshifting, both managers and employees must keep each other informed of any progress or changes. Also, workshifters should not be excluded from discussions simply because they are not physically in the office.
The manual is quite long, but don’t let that stop you from using it. Even the most experienced workshifter might learn something new. And if you’ve come across any other helpful guides to workshifting that you think can help others, be sure to include them down below in the comments.