Love Office Politices? Teleworking Is Not for You

In our era of smart technology devices, employees are able to access important company information anywhere and anytime.

Smart employers are taking advantage of the trend. They’re saving big on office space and other costs by letting more of their employees work from home.

The idea is so sensible that even the feds are catching on. That’s why Congress passed the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010. Of course, agencies require new laws, rules, and hours of bureaucratic analysis before they attempt to implement anything as sensible as “teleworking.”

Here are some tips for federal employees.

I have been teleworking for years (I’m writing this column from an office in my country home). I wear blue jeans or running clothes every day. I save a fortune on dry cleaning.

I never waste precious personal time in rush-hour traffic. I roll out of bed and get right to work — and sneak afternoon naps to keep mentally sharp.

While there are lots of upsides to teleworking, there are some downsides.

For starters, it’s much more difficult to participate in office politics — of particular importance in the government sector, where licking boots is the key to career advancement.

In the private sector, you can get by for years by producing items of actual value — items that help your organization reduce costs or increase sales and profits.

But in the public sector, where there are no profits and the goal is to increase annual funding, many teleworkers will need to produce even lengthier reports to demonstrate tangible evidence that they are “working.”

Then again, in the very near future, there might be particular benefits unique to government teleworkers.

Any fool with basic math skills can see America is headed for a cliff. Government growth and spending continue to soar, whereas the private economy is barely growing at all. It’s only a matter of time before even the federal government begins to cut employees.

But what safer place to be a government employee than under your desk in your own home office?

When the federal government finally begins to cut, it will be the invisible federal teleworker, who produces no reports and never phones into the office, who will sustain his career through retirement — as large centralized governments, such as ours, aren’t much good at keeping track of people or things.

It’s true you are likely to get bored hiding in your home over the years — isolation is one of the greatest threats to the well-being of a federal teleworker — but I have some tips for that, too.

If you get lonely, consider getting a pet. Dogs require a lot of attention and frequent walks.

Depending on your access to federal credit cards or lines of credit, you might be able to find a way to pay for an assistant, so you will at least have someone to play checkers with.

Or you can try, as I did, to hire a 24-year-old Swedish nanny — though, regrettably, the nanny agency assured me I needed to be a family.

In any event, surveys show that most federal agencies are way behind schedule as they establish frameworks to implement their government-mandated telework policies.

Still, I hope my tips will be of some assistance.

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