According to Richard Rizzi, BOR's Manager of the Land Resources Division in Policy and Administration, "Telework can be very effective when supervisors and employees work together to ensure success. Many of my staff telework two days every week.They work on short-term assignments or I break long term assignments into weekly components. Then I review progress weekly with my employees to address questions and measure results. Because my staff can take an assignment and focus on it while teleworking, I have noticed an increase in productivity as turnaround times are reduced."
This web site provides information on the Department of Interior’s telework program.
Using this web page, you can find the Department's policies by selecting the POLICIES tab at the top. You can find Training by selecting the TRAINING tab. You can also pose questions by selecting the QUESTIONS tab – we try to respond within 48 business hours.
The goals of the Department’s telework program are:
· Provide supervisors with maximum flexibility to respond to changing work conditions;
· Conserve nature, energy and natural resources;
· Reduce greenhouse gas emissions;
· Reduce the DOI space footprint;
· Increase workforce efficiency;
· Improve operations during emergencies, natural disasters and inclement weather;
· Improve employee satisfaction and quality of work-life balance;
· Enhance recruiting and retention efforts.
If you have ideas, we’d like to hear from you - send your ideas by selecting the QUESTIONS tab.
This web site does not have a dedicated page for frequently asked questions (FAQs). FAQs have been incorporated into topical fact sheets which you can access by clicking on the FACT SHEETS tab above.
NOTE: There are no .zip files downloaded from links on this site. If you are prompted to download a .zip file, try unchecking the dialog box when prompted, click OK, and try again. If you are still having problems, please send details using the QUESTIONS tab above.
SUPERVISORS' EXPERIENCE WITH TELEWORK
ONRR: As an employee and a supervisor, I really appreciate the Department of the Interior's commitment to telework. From my experience, telework increases productivity by providing employees with an opportunity to focus on particular projects and assignments, improves employee health and wellness by supporting a greater work-life balance, and provides flexibility for the organization to adapt to changing priorities and stakeholder expectations. The technology that is available allows employees to work remotely (or virtually) from their desk, a conference room, their home office, or an airport terminal. In an emergency situation, such as inclement weather, teleworking helps ensure that employees can do their jobs and stay safe. By embracing telework, and other work-life benefits, my message to my employees is that, "I value your contributions to the organization and I value you as person." When implemented effectively, telework promotes trust, accountability and communication within an office. For the Department, promoting telework will help Interior recruit and retain the best employees and ensure that we remain a competitive, employer of choice within the Federal government.
Jennifer L. Goldblatt, Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Chief of Staff
OSM: As supervisor of Office of Surface Mining (OSM), Division of Compliance Management (DCM) auditors, my employees began working at home on a part-time basis, completing work papers and writing audit reports at the conclusion of their audit field work. My division has lent itself to the ideal successful implementation of telecommuting.Auditing relies on employees working independently for much of their work so they are accustomed to being self-starters.Employee performance is measured by the quality and quantity of products generated, such as audit reports. Through attrition, the number of employees in my division declined in many area offices.In some cases, only one auditor remained in an office.
Because of the success of the part-time telecommuting initiative, I made the decision to close offices and some auditors began telecommuting full time.As the continuing success of these arrangements became evident, other employees asked to participate, resulting in my closure of additional offices.My division now has 21 telecommuters working full-time from their homes.The few additional costs for cell phones, etc. cannot compare to the overall savings.
Overall, productivity in my division has remained very high. In addition to the intangible benefits afforded by telework, my division has realized substantial cost savings, in excess of $160,000 per year, as a result of fully embracing telework.I have been successful in leveraging technology to create a paperless working environment and that fact, combined with telework success, enabled my division to win the coveted DOI Green Award in 2011.
Jane Gray, Office of Surface Mining, Division of Compliance Management
OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT: According to the results of a survey on telework conducted at Interior last year, one of the greatest barriers to using telework is a lack of supervisory support. Obviously, supervisors know best the requirements for the work and the ability of an employee to work successfully in a telework environment. But, too often, we hear that supervisors simply have a negative opinion of telework and are concerned about losing sight of what their employees are doing. Other supervisory perceptions are that telework is "all or nothing" or that supervisors lose having a say once telework is implemented. Here is one supervisor's story about how he changed his perspective and successfully implemented telework.
When Larry Broun, Director of the Department's Office of Emergency Management (OEM) was first introduced to telework, his first reaction, like many supervisors, was that positions in OEM were not suitable for telework. The mission requires in-house coverage 24 hours a days, seven days a week, and the work includes frequent attendance at interagency meetings. Also, many OEM employees regularly work with classified information and systems, and as a result, requests for telework were routinely denied. "I just couldn't reconcile using telework with a mission like ours," said Broun.
In the Spring of 2012, Interior created an executive level telework steering committee composed of senior leaders from various functional areas including Larry. The purpose of the committee is to provide input and perspective on telework as a viable management tool and to help with overcoming barriers to implementation, as well as contributing to the refinement of telework guidance based on experience over time. During monthly meetings of the steering committee, Larry participated in a number of conversations about the value of telework and the challenges with implementation. It's fair to say that in the beginning, Larry was not a fan of telework, but over the past year, his perspective changed.
Larry began to carefully consider the various tasks performed not only by OEM, but by others throughout the department during snowstorms, disasters and other emergencies. While he concluded that duty officers in the operations center were performing duties that were not suitable for telework, other members of the workforce were performing tasks that were suitable for some form of telework. In fact, after further consideration, it became apparent that in certain situations, telework could enhance the ability to meet his office's mission requirements.
One important function of OEM is the development of policies and plans. By implementing situational telework agreements, Larry found that staff could increase productivity in preparing such documents by blocking time to complete complex writing and editing activities while teleworking. The experiences from these teleworking experiences raised employees' confidence in their ability to use systems and access network services to support the essential work of the office during emergency situations. Examples of such emergencies include:
·During health emergencies such as pandemic influenza or other infectious diseases, "social distancing" between employees is extremely important. The use of telework is an important tool in ensuring productivity and continuity of operations without exposing employees who may be contagious to others in an office situation.
·During snow and inclement weather, the on-site OEM operations staff can be supplemented by other OEM employees who are teleworking. While a cadre of emergency workers need to be present in the OEM operations center, for others, avoiding the need to travel in poor weather heightens safety and reduces congestion on gridlocked roads.
·During catastrophic disasters or terrorist events, only certain designated Emergency Employees may be asked to report to work. Members of "Continuity of Operations" teams can reach out for technical advice and assistance from colleagues who have situational telework agreements in place; these employees can support the vital work of the Department while working from their homes or other areas removed from harm's way.
Like many leaders, Larry's initial reluctance was fueled by the thought that telework would degrade OEM's capacity to bring resources to bear during emergency situations. After defining which positions in the organization where not suitable for telework, it became apparent that telework is a tool managers can use to enhance mission performance, improve morale, and provide additional resources to support emergency operations. Recognizing the value of situational telework, Larry also became open to considering requests for regular telework. Key to the decision process is recognition that managers determine whether or not positions and people are suitable for telework and managers can take into account issues such as office coverage and customer service requirements when permitting employees to telework. "Once I looked closely at the various tasks performed in the office, I realized that telework was a viable option for some activities," said Broun. "My comfort level with using telework increased as I focused more on the work that needed to be done and less on the notion that telework and emergency management were incompatible."
Any supervisor can use the same approach that Larry used to bring telework into the leadership toolbox:
·Recognize that managers decide when telework is appropriate and have the authority to make changes, if it isn't working as expected.
·Tailor teleworking arrangements for individual work sections or positions. Implementing telework is not an all-or-nothing arrangement. Consider how a unit functions and make sure that implicit relationships between workers are accounted for during telework situations. For example, establish ground rules and expectations for accessibility to others, timeliness in getting back to colleagues, and work hours. Modify as you go, if needed.
·Use technology to replace physical proximity. Bison Connect provides tools like secure document management and instant messaging that can facilitate collaboration and maintain contact while teleworking.
·Try allowing telework on a temporary or limited basis to see how to best manage employee performance.
·Focus on what needs to be done by when and not on whether an employee is visible in the office.
·Implement situational telework when office coverage or other duties prohibit routine absences from the office.
·Consider the benefits of having telework agreements in place when the office must perform vital functions during weather emergencies or disasters.
Do you have a story about how you've used telework successfully in your office? Tell us about the barriers you've overcome and how you're using telework as a management tool. We want to share your stories to help managers learn how telework can support the accomplishment of the mission in a variety of ways. Tell us, too, if you're having difficulties and we'll see if we can offer you some ideas for your consideration. Send your information and questions to Ralph Charlip at email@example.com.