Blog Post 9-12-13

The Top Ten Mistakes of Teleworkers

OPM’s 2012 Status of Telework Programs in the Federal Government report finds that 684,589 agency employees have been determined eligible to telework, representing almost 32 percent of executive branch workers; 144,851 of those employees have a telework agreement in place. As telework programs continue to expand, it pays to learn from mistakes and create a set of guidelines for your team. Telework should be transparent to your customer, and a teleworking employee should be just as responsive as an employee in the office. Here are some of the most common mistakes we’ve seen:

1. Email auto-responders that make it sound as if the teleworker considers a telework day to be a vacation day. “I am teleworking today and will respond to your email when I return on Friday.”

2. Email signature lines that give different phone numbers for different days of the week. Office phones should be forwarded to home phone numbers on telework days, making communication seamless.

3. Managers who delegate tasks to the employee in closest physical proximity, rather than the employee best suited for the task.

4. Teams that don’t make use of all the technology options they have for staying connected. Know how to reach your teleworking teammates and use video calls, chat programs and other technology effectively.

5. Not establishing a healthy routine for teleworking days and making sure you have boundaries. Have set start and end times, take a lunch break, and don’t work until late hours of the evening.

6. Not minimizing distractions on telework days. Use a separate room as your office and shut the door.

7. For employees in the office, thinking, “I’m not going to bother him today because he’s teleworking; I’ll talk to him when he’s back in the office on Thursday.” Telework days should be just like any other day in terms of the ability to communicate, both internally and externally. This is particularly important for teleworking supervisors; don’t let your employees feel you are not available to them on telework days.

8. Not being presentable for a last-minute video call. We all love being able to wear sweat pants on a telework day, but if your hair is sticking straight up and you have a bathrobe on, what will you do when a customer says, “Can we schedule a quick video call?”

9. Not using the mute button during a conference call. Barking dogs, children playing outside and the door bell ringing can be disruptive to everyone on the call.

10. Managers not making telework protocols clear for their employees. Set and communicate clear, consistent guidelines for staying connected with the office, keeping regular hours, using technology appropriately, and reporting progress toward work objectives.

For more information about maximizing the effectiveness of your teleworkers contact Alli at