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Telework Managing Officers & Coordinators

TMO & Coordinator FAQs

  • Yes, OPM offers a Governmentwide telework training program for employees on our website, www.telework.gov.  Additionally, individual agencies have the option of offering their own on-line or classroom based telework training tailored to their organizations.
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  • Yes. There does not appear to be any language in the Act that would lead us to revise our understanding that telework is a voluntary flexibility. In other words, an agency may not compel an employee to telework, even if the duties of the position make that employee "telework eligible." However, although entering into a telework arrangement is voluntary, once the employee is under such an arrangement, he/she may be required to telework outside of his/ her normal telework schedule in the case of a temporary emergency situation if that understanding has been clearly communicated by the agency to the teleworking employee in the written telework agreement.  Also, it is important to remember that the intent of the Act is to promote the use of telework and agencies should make every effort to encourage employees and managers accordingly.
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  • The ideal teleworker is self-motivated, well organized, a problem-solver, and someone who can work independently with minimal supervision. Successful teleworkers have a high degree of job skill and knowledge, and strong time management skills. Teleworkers like working at home or away from the office for at least part of the week and do not mind working alone. Teleworking is not ideal or desirable for every employee.
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  • No, telework is not a universal employee benefit or an employee right.  Federal law requires agencies to establish telework programs but does not give individual employees a legal right to telework.
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  • Each Federal agency sets up its own approval process, but generally the immediate supervisor must formally agree to a specific employee's request. Prior to beginning telework, the employee and manager must successfully complete an interactive telework training program and enter into a written agreement.  Contact your telework coordinator or Telework Managing Officer for details about your own agency’s process.
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  • No.  It is the employee's responsibility to maintain a clean, safe and productive home office environment.  Depending on the requirements of the agency telework policy, a manager may ask the employee to complete a safety checklist self-certifying the home office is free from hazards.  The checklist generally provides a description of the agreed upon alternative worksite or designated work area, a self-certifying assessment of its overall safety, and if signed, assumes compliance.
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  • Most agency telework policies and many collective bargaining agreements will include procedures for establishing telework agreements, obtaining equipment, and related matters.  Managers should familiarize themselves and their employees with their agency’s telework policy and applicable collective bargaining agreements to ensure compliance.
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  • The General Services Administration (GSA) provides guidelines for implementing and operating telework and other alternative workplace programs through the efficient and effective use of information technology and telecommunication.  Additionally, GSA provides basic recommendations for the equipment and support that an agency may provide teleworkers.  For more information, go to the GSA Guidelines for Alternative Workplace Arrangements.  For more information about your agency equipment policy for telework, please consult your agency telework policy or telework coordinator.
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  • Not necessarily. The Act states the head of the agency may provide for an exemption from the training requirements "if the head of the agency determines that the training would be unnecessary because the employee is already teleworking under a work arrangement in effect before the date of enactment." The bottom line is that employees who have already been teleworking may be exempted from this training requirement; however, the decision to waive this training requirement must be made by the agency head and implemented in the manner that is normally done in your agency.
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  • No. An employee's "eligibility" for telework does not automatically confer the right or the obligation for an employee to "participate" in telework. Agencies have discretion to make their own eligibility and participation determinations for employees subject to operational needs while considering the specific requirements of the Act. The fact that an employee may be deemed "eligible" does not mean that the employee can be compelled to "participate" because telework is a voluntary workplace flexibility. In other words, an agency may not compel an employee to telework, even if the duties of the position make that employee "telework eligible." Keep in mind that although entering into a telework arrangement is voluntary, once the employee is under such an arrangement, he/she may be required to telework outside of his/her normal telework schedule in the case of a temporary emergency situation if that understanding has been clearly communicated by the agency to the teleworking employee in the written telework agreement.
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  • Yes, OPM offers a Governmentwide telework training program for managers on our website.  Additionally, individual agencies have the option of offering their own on-line or classroom based telework training tailored to their organizations.  In addition to the training for managers offered on our website, there is also specialized training available through OPM's Eastern and Western Management Development Centers. Details on the Development Centers and course schedules can be found at the Center for Leadership Development's website.
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  • The answer depends upon the intended use of the checklist.  If the checklist is used solely for program purposes, such as acquainting the teleworker with workplace safety, then the agency may require employees to sign such a checklist to participate in telework.  However, if the checklist is intended to have legal standing for safety and/or liability purposes, then the answer is no. For more information, please refer to GSA's Guidelines for Alternative Workplace Arrangements.  For more information about your agency equipment policy for telework, please consult your agency telework policy or telework coordinator.
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  • No. In fact, the Act does not define what is meant by the term "interactive," thereby leaving it subject to interpretation. OPM has always considered the "Telework 101" training on Telework.gov (and therefore, online) to meet the definition of "interactive" in that there is a built-in opportunity for the trainee to self-assess his/her understanding through the use of frequent questions and answers and progress checks throughout. For this reason, we maintain that the training currently on Telework.gov meets the requirement of the law. In 2011, OPM engaged a vendor to enhance this training in a number of ways, including both substance and format. This is being accomplished keeping in mind improved "interactivity" through the selective use of media tools that will make the training more engaging for employees. However, OPM's interpretation is that there is no requirement that this training be instructor-led as compared to computer or  Internet-based.
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  • Although the Telework Enhancement Act requires every Executive agency to establish and implement a policy to authorize employees to telework, it is important to remember that eligibility criterion is established at the agency level based on mission and operational needs. Also, even though eligibility is established at the agency level subject to the requirements of the Act and collective bargaining agreements, the final decision is still subject to manager approval. So to obtain that approval to telework you may want to follow the following steps:
    • Familiarize yourself with your agency’s telework policies and procedures.
    • Schedule a meeting with your manager to show you are serious about teleworking.  
    • Make the request.  Remember an employee may request a telework arrangement either verbally or in writing.  However, by submitting a written application along with a written proposal can serve as a guide and an organizational tool for your discussion with your manager.
    Think like a manager, in particular, your manager:
    • Focus on the nuts and bolts of your telework arrangement, such as how things will be done or how communication will occur.
    • In some cases it may be better to explain how it will benefit the agency/organization more than how it will benefit you.
    • Focus on telework’s positive effects on your work responsibilities.
    • Be flexible about your proposed telework arrangement.
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  • The Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 (Act) requires that each Executive agency designate a Telework Managing Officer (TMO). Before the law was passed, most agencies fulfilled the day-to-day operational aspects of telework through a telework coordinator (with telework coordinators at the subagency level). The telework coordinator served as the key contact for policy and program questions. Many coordinators, however, had telework as a collateral responsibility without much authority or contact with senior leaders. The Act requires the TMO to assume these duties as the main agency official on telework matters. The TMO is a senior official of the agency, established within the office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO), or its equivalent, and who has direct access to the head of the agency. Note that he or she does not need to be the CHCO. The important thing is that the position be given direct access to the head of the agency. We believe it is the intent of this legislation that the TMO be a strategic thinker and planner who will help the agency incorporate telework in a way that makes good business sense. The TMO is responsible for policy development and implementation related to telework programs; serves as an advisor to agency leadership; and is the primary point of contact with OPM on telework matters. In addition to making telework an integral way of doing business in the agency, the TMO will be responsible for helping with the development of goals and metrics in order to evaluate the effectiveness of the program. In designating a TMO, agencies should look for the same leadership competencies and high standards they would consider in selecting for any leadership position.
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Total Count: 53, Number of Pages: 4, Page: 3