Teleworking has positive impact on workplace, says Merit Board survey
A sizable minority of federal employees say telework can have a negative impact on work unit dynamics, although their numbers are surpassed by those who says it has a positive or neutral impact, according to a newly released survey from the Merit Systems Protection Board.
In a report released Oct. 31 that's based on a 2009 survey of 9,973 federal employees in occupational series generally appropriate for telework--i.e., employees not performing work that obviously requires their physical presence, such as law enforcement, lab work or facility maintenance--most supervisors and non-teleworking employees say teleworking has had a neutral impact on work relationships and communication.
Those who say it has had a negative impact are also outweighed by those who say it has a positive impact, in some cases by as much as a factor of two.
Teleworkers themselves report being more engaged in their work than non-teleworkers--65 percent of those who telework 4 to 5 days a week say they are "engaged," whereas only 47 percent of their non-teleworking counterparts say the same thing.
The report, however, draws caution against drawing a cause-and-effect conclusion, since "it could also be the case that employees who are already engaged to begin with are given more discretion to telework."
Supervisors' attitudes toward telework can have a substantial impact on its implementation, the survey also finds. Twenty-two percent of employees who did not request approval to telework on a routine basis indicated they refrained from doing so in great part because "it might irritate or frustrate my supervisor because he or she does not like telework."
Seventy-two percent of supervisors who had employees who requested routine telework also said the attitudes of those above them was an important part of their response.
- download the Merit Systems Protection Board survey report (.pdf)