National Telework Week has come and gone—and good riddance, say some.
Encouraging telework within the federal space has always been difficult, but these days it may be even more so, in part due to the negative connotations associated with the word “telework.” To some, the term invokes an “out of sight, out of mind” view and furthers government supervisors’ idea that their employees will not be productive removed from their watchful eye.
Steve Teubner, vice president of consulting in CGI Federal’s business engineering group, suggests the word "telework" should be banned and replaced with the phrase “workforce strategy.”
“I felt the focus on [the concept of] telework was distracting for the overall goals we were trying to achieve,” Teubner said.
Wade Hannum, director of the General Services Administration’s performance and work life policy division, agrees with Teubner: “It’s one of those inflamed words. We’re not talking about telework. We are talking about work and performance.”
Changing a term rather than attempting to improve upon current telework programs in place seems like an empty gesture. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again (and again): it all comes down to trust. Telework, workforce strategy, it doesn’t matter what you call it…it’s a trust game. If federal supervisors can’t bring themselves to trust their workers, the initiative will never be successful, no matter how productive or cost-effective it proves to be or what people call it.
Until the government tackles their trust issue, telework—or whatever it is renamed—will remain a dirty word.
Do you think eliminating the use of the word “telework” will make it easier for feds to telecommute? Is trust the core issue at play here or is there another reason why telework is not working for much of the federal workforce?