Lawmaker Says Teleworkers Should be Rewarded during Closings

February 11, 2010 ( – U.S. Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Virginia) wants the Office of Personnel Management to consider incentives for employees who work remotely while the government is shutdown.

Connolly asked the OPM to document productivity savings from telework and to consider how employees who work remotely are disproportionately affected by closures, according to He said he didn’t want to discourage telework, and hoped to talk to OPM Director John Berry about incentives to reward employees who telework when the work day is canceled for their office-working colleagues.

“You’ve got this double standard,” said Connolly, according to the news report. “The rest of the workforce is given a free day, but if you’ve signed a telework agreement in some agencies, you’re required to work from a remote location. Obviously unintentionally, it serves as a disincentive.”

He praised Berry for using the government closures to encourage managers and employees to put telework agreements to use, and for working to expand telework since he was sworn in last spring. The federal government has for years encouraged the use of telework arrangements, but has found employees timid to sign on (see Federal Workers Timid about Teleworking Opportunities).

The situation gives food for thought to other employers who might be experiencing the same issue during the unusually heavy winter weather this year. A nationwide survey by Cisco indicates companies may be unprepared to enable the majority of their employees to effectively telework during workforce disruptions such as transit failures, natural disasters, or other situations in which employees can’t get to the office for extended periods (see Employers Ill Prepared if Employees Can’t Get to Work).

Though another study by Cisco found those who telecommute experience a significant increase in work-life flexibility, productivity, and overall satisfaction (see Cisco Study Finds Substantial Telecommuting Benefits), is that enough reward for teleworkers when office-working employees get the day off?