Telework Policy

Why Telework?

DOD teleworks because it helps keep our people mission ready. It enhances continuity of operations. It helps attract and retain employees. And it reduces our environmental impact.

Telework works at DOD because teleworkers are more engaged, less stressed and far more productive.

DOD employees telework on a regular schedule or just during specific situations-each according to the demands of the mission.

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DoD Telework Policy

Telework Essentials for DOD Employees

Ste​p 1: Know Your Telework Coordinator

Components have designated telework coordinators. Your Component Coordinator is a key contact for DOD supplemental Component telework policy and program questions. Employees should contact their Telework Coordinator or his/her designee to ensure that they follow policy and procedures, and for support and assistance if it is needed. For a copy of the current DOD Component Telework Coordinators, contact: dodhra.mc-alex.dcpas.mbx.dod-worklife@mail.mil

Step 2: Know DOD and Component Policy and Procedures

DOD telework policy can be found in DOD Instruction 1035.01. DOD Components may also have supplemental telework policy with specific Component requirements. Employees should familiarize themselves with telework policy and other relevant procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with their requirements.

Step 3: Participate in Training

Employees participating in telework should take telework training. The Office of Personnel Management offers online teleworker training at telework.gov. Component Telework Coordinators may also provide training. Information about Component-based training is available from the Component Telework Coordinator. All teleworkers must complete training on information security management and on accessing DOD technology remotely and understand their responsibilities in safeguarding work-related information.

Step 4: Conduct an Honest Self-Assessment

A successful telework arrangement begins with a good self-assessment. Employees should consider the following factors in making an honest determination about their telework capabilities:
  • Your job position is telework eligible
  • Sufficient portable work is available for the amount of telework being proposed
  • You have the ability to work independently, without close supervision
  • Appropriate equipment and technologies required to complete the work and safeguard information are available at your telework location
  • You are comfortable and able to use the technologies that will be needed to telework
  • You have good communication with supervisor, co-workers, and customers that will enable a relatively seamless transition from onsite to offsite
  • You have telework office space that meets safety requirements and is conducive to getting the work done
  • You can make arrangements for dependent care (i.e., child-care, elder-care, or care of any other dependent adults) so that they don’t interfere with telework
  • You have ability to be flexible about the telework arrangement to respond to the needs of the supervisor, the workgroup, and the work

Step 5: Provide Your Telework Proposal to Your Supervisor

It is DOD policy to actively promote and implement telework, where appropriate, to the extent that mission readiness is not compromised. Approaching your manager with a thorough telework proposal may help to facilitate management approval. Consider including the following in your proposal:
  • How telework can benefit your office and the Component
  • Why your personal work habits will help you to be a successful teleworker
  • How you will maintain your productivity
  • How your manager will know you are being productive
  • How you will communicate with your supervisor, coworkers, and customer
Don’t emphasize how teleworking might benefit you in personal ways (or suggest that it might help you provide child or dependent care). Instead, frame your proposal to show how teleworking will enhance your work and advance your component’s mission.

Step 6: Create a Good Telework Agreement

Once a telework arrangement is reached, a Telework Agreement must be completed. DD Form 2946, Department of Defense Telework Agreement can be found on the DOD Issuances website at: https://www.esd.whs.mil/DD/DoD-Issuances/

A written agreement is required for employees who telework on a regular and recurring basis—and strongly encouraged for those who telework on an ad hoc or situational basis. Telework Agreements should be negotiated between and signed by the employee and supervisor. Elements of all Telework Agreements should include:
  • Location of the telework office (e.g., home, Telework Center, other)
  • Telework schedule
  • Telework contact information (e.g., what phone number to use on the telework day)
  • Equipment inventory - what employee is supplying, what agency is providing, and if applicable, what costs are reimbursable, if appropriate
  • Safety checklist - certifying that the home office meets certain standards
  • Expectations for emergency telework
  • In general, the job tasks that will be performed while teleworking
  • Supervisor’s and/or commander’s expectations of a teleworker’s performance
The supervisor and teleworker should work together to evaluate the telework arrangement at least every two years and make changes to the agreement if necessary. A new agreement should be completed if a new employee/supervisor relationship is established.

Step 7: Safeguard Information and Data

Employees must take responsibility for the security of the data and other information that they handle while teleworking. This means they should:
  • Be familiar with, understand, and comply with the DOD and Component policy and security protocols for accessing DOD systems remotely
  • Participate in information assurance training
  • Maintain security of any relevant materials, including files, correspondence and equipment, separating them from personal property and equipment

Step 8: Plan the Work

Employees who are teleworking should assess the portability of their work and the level of technology available at the remote site as they prepare to telework. Employees should plan for their telework days to be as effective as possible. Consider the following questions in planning for telework:
  • Have work assignments to be performed or training to be accomplished while teleworking been agreed to, and understood, in advance of the telework day(s)?
  • What files or other documents and information will I need to take with me when I leave my regular workplace the day before teleworking?
  • What equipment will I need to take?
  • Who needs to be notified that I will be teleworking?
  • What other steps should I take before I leave my office (for example, forwarding the phone calls if appropriate)?
  • In the case of emergency telework, what should I have available at all times at my home office or, if applicable, a telework center that would enable me to be functional without coming onsite to retrieve materials?

Step 9: Manage Expectations and Communication

Managers are responsible for the effective functioning of the workgroup. However, teleworkers are responsible for their availability and information sharing with the workgroup and for ensuring the success of the telework arrangement.

Issues that should be addressed include:
  • Backup: Even with very telework-appropriate work, there may be situations where personal contact that cannot be handled remotely is required, and a co-worker may need to step in to assist the teleworker. Co-worker backup should be planned, it should not be burdensome for co-workers remaining in the office, and it should be mutual.
  • Situations requiring on-site assistance: Teleworkers may occasionally need someone who is physically in the main office to assist them: for instance, to fax a document or to look up information. Again, these arrangements should not be burdensome for co-workers remaining in the office, and it should be mutual.
  • Communication: The supervisor and co-workers need to be kept informed about the teleworker's schedule and how to reach the teleworker. Plans for handling telephone calls or other communications that need to be addressed by the teleworker, and how to take care of customers should be planned and coordinated prior to the telework day.

Telework Essentials for DOD Managers

Telework is an effective strategy for mission accomplishment, ensuring continuity of operations in a crisis, facilitating your organization’s ability to recruit and retain valued talent. These basic steps will help minimize potential administrative burden, maximize the benefit of telework for you and your workgroup, and set the stage for your employees to be successful.

Step 1: Know Your Telework Coordinator

Components have designated Telework Coordinators. Your Component Coordinator is a key contact for DOD supplemental Component telework policy and program questions. Contact your Telework Coordinator or his/her designee for information on policy and procedures and for support and assistance if needed. For a copy of the current Department of Defense Component Telework Coordinators, contact:dodhra.mc-alex.dcpas.mbx.dod-worklife@mail.mil

Step 2: Know DOD and Component Policy and Procedures

DOD telework policy can be found in DOD Instruction 1035.01, Telework Policy. DOD Components may also have supplemental telework policy with specific Component requirements. Military and civilian managers and supervisors as well as employees should familiarize themselves with telework policy and other relevant procedures to ensure that they are in compliance with their requirements.

Step 3: Participate in Training

Online telework training for managers is available. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) offers online training for managers can be found at telework.gov. Component Telework Coordinators may also provide training. Information about Component-based training is available from the Component Telework Coordinator. Supervisors should ensure that all teleworkers complete training on information security management and on accessing DOD technology remotely and understand their responsibilities in safeguarding work-related information.

Step 4: Determine Eligibility

Supervisors should allow maximum flexibility for employees to telework to the extent that mission accomplishment is not compromised. Although telework is encouraged, it is not a right and all employees are not eligible to telework nor are all DOD positions eligible for telework. Supervisors should assess employee eligibility based on telework eligibility guidelines in DOD Instruction 1035.01, Telework Policy.

Step 5: Assess Needs

Telework is often implemented on a case-by-case basis, rather than strategically, as individuals request telework arrangements. Telework should be implemented strategically, taking into account mission requirements, office coverage, employee eligibility, and union recognition based upon the entire workgroup rather than granting or denying telework requests one by one on a first-come, first-served basis. Including employees in the process and asking them to help formulate possible solutions to issues that may arise can help to ensure employee accountability and the effective functioning of the entire workgroup.

Step 6: Create Agreements

A written Telework Agreement should be created between an employee who teleworks on a regular and recurring basis and his or her supervisor. Written Telework Agreements are strongly encouraged for employees who telework on an ad hoc or situational basis. The Department of Defense Telework Agreement, DD Form 2946, can be found on the DOD Issuances website at www.dtic.mil/whs/directives/infomgt/forms/formsprogram.htm. The parameters of this Agreement should include certain key elements:
  • Location of the telework office (e.g., home, telework center, other)
  • Telework schedule
  • Expectations for emergency telework; specify whether the employee is expected to telework in the case of a COOP event, pandemic, weather shutdown, etc.
  • Supplies and equipment issued
  • In general, the job tasks that will be performed while the employee is teleworking
  • Telework contact information (e.g., what phone number to use on the telework day)
  • Safety checklist - certifying that the home office meets certain standards
The Agreement should be signed and dated by the employee and supervisor. Supervisors should keep copies of all Telework Agreements on file. Telework Agreements should be reviewed by the manager and teleworker and re-validated at least every two years with changes made when required. Additional information can be found in DOD Instruction 1035.01, Telework Policy.

Step 7: Communicate Expectations

The Telework Agreement provides structure for the discussion that needs to take place between the supervisor and the employee about expectations for the telework arrangement. This discussion is important to ensure that supervisors and employees understand each other's expectations around issues such as the following:
  • How will the supervisor know the teleworking employee is on or off duty?
  • How will the supervisor know the work is being accomplished?
  • How will contact be maintained? How will the employee communicate with his/her supervisor, customers, and coworkers?
  • What type of government furnished equipment will be provided by the Component? What equipment is the teleworker providing?
  • Who provides technical assistance in the event of equipment disruption?
  • What will the telework schedule be? How are schedule changes required by the supervisor or requested by the employee addressed?
  • What will the daily telework schedule be? Will the hours be the same as in the main office, or will they be different?
  • Does the telework office conform to safety standards? (Use a safety checklist.)
  • How available will the teleworker be—is the telework intended to be seamless, so that phone, email, etc. are dealt with the same as in the office? Or is the employee teleworking to be away from such distractions to accomplish a specific project?
  • What is the expectation regarding the amount of notice given for reporting to the official worksite on an employee’s scheduled telework day, and how will such notice be provided?
  • How is a Telework Agreement terminated by management or an employee?
Clarifying expectations before the employee begins to telework will help to ensure the success of the arrangement.

Step 8: Base Denials on Business Reasons

Telework requests may be denied and Telework Agreements may be terminated. Telework is not an employee right, even if the employee is considered "eligible" by DOD and Component standards. Denial and termination decisions must be based on business needs or performance, not personal reasons. Denials should be provided in a timely manner. Supervisors should also review negotiated union agreement(s) and telework policy to ensure they meet any applicable requirements. Supervisors should provide affected employees (and keep copies of) signed written denials or terminations of Telework Agreements. These should include information about why the arrangement was denied or terminated. Employees may submit a grievance using the Component administrative or negotiated grievance procedure, as appropriate when a Telework Agreement is denied or cancelled.

Step 9: Use Good Performance Management

It is worth noting that performance standards for off-site employees are the same as performance standards for on-site employees. Effectively negotiating the process of communicating expectations described in Step 7 sets the stage for good performance management practices. Supervisor expectations of a teleworker's performance should be clearly addressed in the Telework Agreement and work assignments should be agreed to, and understood, in advance of the telework event. As with on-site employees, teleworkers must, and can, be held accountable for the results they produce. Other factors to keep in mind include the following:
  • Remain equitable in assigning work and rewarding performance
  • Avoid distributing work based on "availability" as measured by employee presence in the office
  • Avoid the pitfall of assuming that employees who are present are actually accomplishing more work than employees who are not on-site
Good performance management techniques practiced by a manager will mean a smooth, easy transition to a telework environment. Resources for performance management are available from OPM at www.opm.gov/perform. DOD Instruction 1035.01, Telework Policy, also addresses performance management issues.

Step 10: Make Good Decisions about Equipment

The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) provides guidelines for the equipment and support that an agency may provide teleworkers working in alternate workplaces that can be found at:
https://www.gsa.gov/policy-regulations/regulations/federal-management-regulation/federal-management-regulation-fmr-related-files.

Components should determine equipment required by teleworkers based upon available funding and the nature and type of work performed by the teleworker. Supervisors should familiarize themselves with the DOD Instruction 1035.01, Telework Policy, and equipment guidelines, as well as the GSA guidelines on equipment and support that may be provided to teleworkers. In compliance with policy and based on mission requirements, supervisors should determine the right balance of budget, security, and effectiveness in making equipment decisions.

Step 11: Address Security Responsibilities

Although teleworkers are responsible for ensuring all official information is safeguarded and government furnished equipment and property is protected, supervisors should work with teleworkers to ensure they fully understand relevant DOD and Component policies and procedures. A thorough Telework Agreement in compliance with DOD and Component information security policies, clear communication of expectations for the telework arrangement, and good performance management practices will help to ensure that teleworkers keep DOD property and information safe and secure. Review DOD Instruction 1035.01, Telework Policy, for details regarding telework security requirements.

Step 12: Plan for Emergencies

Telework can be an important part of DOD Continuity of Operations (COOP) and pandemic influenza planning.
  • Implement telework to the greatest extent possible in the workgroup so systems are in place to support successful remote work in an emergency
  • Understand contingency plans and management roles in executing those plans
  • Communicate expectations to all employees regarding their roles and responsibilities in relation to remote work in the event of an emergency
  • Integrate COOP and pandemic influenza expectations into Telework Agreements as appropriate
  • Assess requirements with the employee for working at home for an extended period
  • Determine how all employees who telework will communicate with one another and with management
Review DOD Instruction 1035.01, Telework Policy, for details regarding telework during emergency situations (e.g., weather-related emergencies) or pandemic influenza.

Step 13: Practice, Practice, Practice

Telework should be considered a normal working condition and authorized to the extent that mission readiness is not jeopardized. The success of the DOD telework program depends on regular, routine use. Experience is the most effective way to enable supervisors, employees, IT support, and other stakeholders to work through technology, equipment, communications, workflow, and other issues that may hamper the effectiveness of a telework program. Employees expected to telework in an emergency situation should telework periodically, under non-emergency circumstances to ensure its effectiveness in continuing operations in the event of a crisis or emergency.

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