Department of the Treasury

Telecommuting Privileges

I suggest that you increase the telecommuting privileges of government employees, conditional on the approval of their supervisors, from once a fortnight to as and when it is actually necessary for them to appear in the office for the following reasons: Most mid-level employees are involved in the production, editing and analysis of documentation so they rarely need to be in the office and their work effort is easily monitored by their supervisors from the quality of the documents produced. Performance evaluation would actually be improved given that a) most supervisors would have to focus on physical output rather than physical presence as a measure for working and b) the ability to withhold the privilege of telecommuting would serve as an incentive for federal employees to work harder. Also, with the technology of video conferencing, in-person meetings are redundant. Yet, most federal employees are required to waste an hour to two each day commuting to work. They need to hire childcare providers just to pick up their children from school and drop them off at home. Working at home would allow the federal government to save on electrical costs, office space and commuting costs (recall that the federal government pays for Metro use). Most federal employees would also take slight pay reductions for greater privileges to work at home due to the savings in childcare costs and commuting time. With all federal employees set up to work at home, inclement weather would no longer restrict the federal government’s ability to operate at full capacity. All of this would save the federal government money and save its employees the most valuable resource of all - time. Note that this is not a radical idea given that the house has just approved a bill that would require federal agencies to create policies that would encourage employees to telecommute. But this really wouldn’t improve on the 10 percent of federal employees utilizing the telecommuting program unless federal employees are allowed to telecommute more. This is because we can only telecommute once a fortnight, so the current program provides little benefit of telecommuting – there are few advantages of arranging and scheduling one’s personal and work lives for maximum benefit given a once-a-fortnight telecommuting privilege.

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Idea No. 7209