Teleworking by government employees has come under intense scrutiny recently.

Early last month, it was reported that the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) had conducted an internal investigation, beginning two years ago, which found that some of the 8,300 employees from the PTO may have fudged how many hours they actually worked, and others were receiving bonuses for work they didn’t do.

Meanwhile, Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Bruce Andrews sent an email to 47,000 employees in mid-August, warning against “erroneous time-keeping.”

“An important aspect of serving the American public as Federal employees is to maintain the public’s trust in how we accomplish our work,” Andrews wrote to employees of the patent and trademark office and 11 other Commerce Department agencies. “Employees, supervisors, and timekeepers are responsible for ensuring accurate, complete, and timely reporting of the hours worked in each pay period.”

Still, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has called for the government to ensure employees have ease of access to a variety of scheduling options.

In an Aug. 22 memo, the OPM urges that agencies make it easier for employees to telework, removing any barriers that restrict them from using workplace flexibilities and work-life programs.

The memo also reemphasizes that federal workers “have the right to request, without fear of retaliation…work schedule flexibilities available to them under law, pursuant to any applicable collective bargaining agreement or under other agency policy.”

The OPM asks that federal workers report “any best practices the agency has employed to create a culture and work environment that supports the productive and efficient use of workplace flexibilities and work-life programs” as well as any barriers or limitations so that they may be addressed.

As these stories have unfolded, most federal workers have commented that teleworking is not what it is stereotyped to be.

The Washington Post even conducted a survey to get an overview of what it is like to work from home for government employees. The results were mostly positive, as workers cited the quiet and privacy of home, as well as the lack of a long commute into the office, as ways that teleworking helped them be more productive.

Share your stories of teleworking with us in the comments. Tell us how it benefits you, or how you find you best utilize your time.

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