On December 9, President Obama signed into law the Telework Enhancement Act, a bill designed to increase telework among federal employees ...[T]he legislation gives federal agencies six months to establish a telework policy, ... Agency managers and employees are required to enter written telework agreements detailing their work arrangements and to receive telework training. Under the Act, teleworkers and non-teleworkers must be treated equally when it comes to performance appraisals, work requirements, promotions and other management issues. Each agency must designate a Telework Managing Officer, and must incorporate telework into its continuity of operations plan. [Emphasis added]
If the new law doesn't explicitly allow "teleworkers" to sue if they're passed over by promotion, it's not hard to see that possibility on the near horizon. Questions:
a) Do we think the Telework Enhancement Act will make the government more productive, or less? You used to at least have to show up at work. Things might then accidentally get done just because there was nothing else to do.
b) How much of the productivity savings from teleworking will be spent promulgating the agency "telework policies" required by the law, figuring out who is eligible, drawing up "telework agreements," and attending conferences on teleworking? Will you be able to telework all this new telework work?
c) The New Geography piece offers an (ugh) "comprehensive" array of familiar, seemingly abuse-prone subsidies for teleworking in private industry. The animating sentiment seems to be, "Telecommuting saves money, so it must be subsidized!" I work for an industry (journalism) in which a good chunk of the work has already been farmed out to freelancers working from home. Our employers did not need additional government incentives to do this!
d) If you really want to encourage telecommuting, then shouldn't you discourage the spread of a "no discrimination against teleworkers" rule to private industry? What employer will want to push telecommuting if that means he'll have to think twice before not promoting, let alone firing, an underperforming telecommuter (because it might mean a lawsuit)? ...
Telecommuting is "green," and there's work for suffering lawyers here—a whole "teleworking bar"! "Comprehensive teleworking reform" might have some lobbying juice behind it. You could easily see serious mischief emerging from federal and state legislatures ... Over to you, Walter Olson ... [We'd like to make some changes. Where are you?-ed. Try to find me] 5:42 p.m.