5 reasons why some feds would rather not telework

The vast majority of readers want to work from home, but here is the minority report

Make no mistake: The vast majority of readers commenting on telework stories in recent weeks clearly favor having the option to work from home on a regular basis. It’s not even close.

That said, we have noticed a handful of comments from readers who feel otherwise. Either they don’t see the attraction of a home office or they feel office work just comes with the job.

Granted, it’s a small sampling -- a handful comments, really -- but it’s enough to make us wonder if there might be other feds who would agree. What do you say? Is there anyone else out there who prefers not to telework, or actually opposes it? If so, why?

Meanwhile, here are the reasons we’ve heard so far:

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1. Some office “distractions” are part of the job.

Many readers have said that they get more work done at home because do not get waylaid by coworkers wandering the halls. But RayW sees it differently.

“I 'waste' about an hour a day on the average helping co-workers with issues, it is not in my job description but I am a senior engineer (well, a journeyman under the GS system) with outside experience that is useful. If I teleworked I could get more work done, but the group would suffer.”

A former manager, and now senior staffer, agrees.

“While commuting is a pain, as a service provider, it is necessary to be in the office to be able to physically interact and mentally interact, one on one, with whoever is also left within the hallowed halls.”

2. Ah, home sweet home.

“Besides security and privacy issues, I do not want to telework,” writes one reader. “I like keeping my work and home life separate.”

‘Nuff said.

3. Too many security hoops to jump through.

For every network or security product that shows up on the market, a new threat appears as well. Access and security are forever at odds.

“Security on the network is so heavy that it takes a long period of time to get the work done and not cause problems with the applications that we work with,” writes an employee at the Agriculture Department.

4. It’s not a telework world.

Talk about a chicken-or-an-egg dilemma.

“Even my most productive telecommuters have items they must complete in the office,” writes a reader from Washington. “As long as face to face communications and paper documents remain part of the job, telecommuting will be at best only a partial solution.”

Which is to say that as long as so many people are not teleworking, would-be teleworkers will need to come into the office more often than they would like, which only reinforces the idea that telework is not a practical solution.

It’s enough to make my head hurt.

5. Some people just like to be in the office.

The self-described “Middle-aged Curmudgeon” might speak for more people than you might imagine when stating a clear preference for working at the office.

“We've specifically moved to where we can be near our work so we do not have long commutes,” the Curmudgeon writes. “We thrive in an office environment and know that, for us personally, telecommuting is a deterrent. If my agency forced me to telecommute or if I was the only one not telecommuting, I would find a job elsewhere.”

About the Author

John Monroe is Senior Events Editor for the 1105 Public Sector Media Group, where he is responsible for overseeing the development of content for print and online content, as well as events. John has more than 20 years of experience covering the information technology field. Most recently he served as Editor-in-Chief of Federal Computer Week. Previously, he served as editor of three sister publications:, which covered the state and local government IT market, Government Health IT, and Defense Systems.

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Reader Comments

Fri, May 18, 2012 Hard Working Federal Employee Washington DC

I am really astonished by some of the comments and opinions expressed here. Some of you have some very low opinions of >ALL< of us that are no deserved by the feds who care and routinely work 50+ hours every week, sometimes as much as 70 or 80, all without compensation because it's just too messy to track and seek compensation for (I.E. not worth it), because we have a high work ethic and that's what's needed to get the job. PLEASE don't lump us all in together because of a few bad apples, I don't do that to you and your job.***I don't want to work from home because I know I would be too easily distracted. I want to devote my full attention to work when I am at work.***RE: the person who said no one is holding a gun to your boss is pressuring me VERY hard to telework and really not listening to me even though I have been consistent in my desire for over 2 years.***RE: the $120K have an obligation to (even anonymously) report your boss for being a fed that gives other feds a bad name. No excuses from you for not being a responsible employee.***RE: overpaid and can't lump us all in together because some of us took a pay cut to come work in the federal government because we (maybe foolishly) believe in the mission and the work. I don't label you based upon your co-workers or even company you work for, why do you think it's ok to do to me?***RE: managers who cannot manage - the only people who get micromanaged on my team like that are those that are micromanaged at work because they require being micromanaged to get work out of them. I don't know your situation, but sometimes micromanagement is necessary. If they backed off when you were in the office, then you need to discuss with your management their perception issues with telecommunting.***RE: face to face - I have team mates in another state, and the bonding I have with them is much less than the bonding I have wiht local people. When you are teleworking you might as well be in another state, and I can assure you the bonding experience will be different with people you never meet face to face. So I HIGHLY disagree that team building via face to face is over, especially when it comes to extracaricular activities.*** So to sum up, not all of us want to work from home, that includes those of us who aren't overpaid and overqualified, and regardless of teleworking I still want face to face with my team mates (including off hours) because there is no substitute for the "real thing".

Tue, Jul 27, 2010

To all the nay sayers, if you don't want to telework then don't. No one is holding a gun to your head saying you have to. But for those who can't wait to telework it is now an option we look forward to. I would rather sit behind a computer at home for an extra 3 1/2 hrs a day then to be stuck in traffic for much longer. In the long run the new law will help reduce a little bit of the day to day traffic.

Tue, Jul 27, 2010 steve DC

Ha, my boss comes in at 9, leaves for lunch at 11:45, and goes home before 13:00. No doubt, Federal government workers that get paid $120k and do nothing, can do nothing from home. Federal workers do need to be on-site and interacting with others.

Mon, Jul 26, 2010 steve DC

We're asking overpaid, under-qualified government workers if the would like to receive a bonus with their check, and the unanimous answer is "yes." You should be asking the staff how much of their salary would they give up to in exchange for teleworking. Many hands go down real quick. AND, what about the coworkers that are aimlessly walking the halls in #1 above, will they "work" from home?

Mon, Jul 26, 2010

Add to the list: Federal managers cannot manage, so if I work at home-- which I did and will no longer do--they micro manage. I spent more time accounting for time and productivity than actually working. So with managers who lack skills it simply won't work...but then that's the larger reason why we have what we have. DOWNGRADE THE INCOMPETENT MANAGERS, DIRECTORS AND SES.

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