After the historic winter of 2009-2010, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is pleased to introduce a new way for agencies and employees to maintain productivity and continuity of operations during snow and other emergencies. Unscheduled telework is a new option that for Federal employees to telework from home, to the extent possible, when severe weather conditions or other circumstances disrupt commuting.
Unscheduled telework supports and encourages the trend toward informal telework that we observed last winter and in the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey. President Obama has made it clear: the work of the Federal Government should never stop because of snow. Therefore, to provide efficient, effective service to the American people, OPM’s goal is to have as many Federal employees as possible working during snow or other emergencies.
Although Federal offices were closed to the public during the winter of 2009-2010 for 5 days, essential Government business continued, as many dedicated Federal employees worked from home. This year, our goal is to have even more employees working during periods when the Federal Government announces unscheduled leave and unscheduled telework, early departure, delayed arrival, or when Federal offices are closed to the public.
In recent years, OPM has stressed the importance of making telework a standard part of all agency emergency planning to ensure the Federal Government continues to carry out its mission-essential functions. The importance of telework in emergency planning has only been further magnified by the recent Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which requires that all agencies implement telework into their Continuity of Operations Plans (COOP) by June 2011. In preparation for these emergency situations, agencies should have telework policies in place that provide instructions and expectations of the employee. The key to successful use of telework for these purposes is an effective routine telework program. To operate as intended, telework must be a regular and recurring activity for eligible employees, and employees should regularly practice teleworking.
The unscheduled telework option will allow more Federal employees to telework from home, to the extent practicable, when severe weather conditions or other circumstances disrupt or prevent employees from commuting or reporting to work in the Washington, DC, area. It will help maintain the productivity and resilience of the Federal workforce during heavy snow accumulation, reasons of national security special events, and other regional emergencies and help ensure the safety of our employees.
Establish Telework Policies. To implement the unscheduled telework flexibility, agencies should (1) review their current telework policies to ensure that telework is integrated as part of the flexibilities permitted during disruption of normal operating procedures; (2) ensure that the IT infrastructure is in place to allow large numbers of employees to telework simultaneously; (3) require all employees are authorized to practice it frequently enough to maintain effectiveness and ensure functionality; and (4) establish new ad hoc telework arrangements for employees who can telework, but typically do not (or do so informally), such as most managers.
Data Collection. To assess the effectiveness of this new agency flexibility, OPM is also requesting that each agency provide data regarding the number of employees that are teleworking on any day when OPM announces any of the following for the Washington, DC, area:
- OPEN—WITH OPTION FOR UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK;
- OPEN—XX HOUR DELAYED ARRIVAL WITH OPTION FOR UNSCHEDULED LEAVE OR UNSCHEDULED TELEWORK or
- FEDERAL OFFICES ARE CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
OPM requests that each agency use the attached spreadsheet when transmitting the telework data to OPM and that the data be sent to OPM no later than 2 weeks following the date of one of the three announcements listed above. Please send the telework data to Gary Lukowski, Manager, Data Analysis Group, Office of Planning and Policy Analysis at Gary.Lukowski@opm.gov. Questions on telework policy may be sent to Marie L'Etoile, Manager, Work/Life/Wellness, Agency & Veterans Support, at Marie.Letoile@opm.gov.
The Washington, DC, Area Dismissal and Closure Procedures have been developed in consultation with Federal agencies and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments and are available at www.opm.gov/oca/compmemo/dismissal.pdf. The updated procedures are based on the principle that the Federal Government’s vital business must be carried on without compromising the safety of our employees and the community. Agencies should avoid independent action in the event of area-wide work disruptions because any changes in the commuting hours of Federal employees must be coordinated carefully with municipal and regional officials in order to minimize disruption of the highway and mass transit systems. This handbook does not apply to pandemic situations.
Announcements on the status of Government operations will be available at www.opm.gov/Operating_Status_Schedules. Recorded messages on operating status also will be provided by OPM’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison on (202) 606-1900.
For More Information
For more information, agency Chief Human Capital Officers and/or Human Resources (HR) Directors may contact their assigned OPM Human Capital Officers. For additional information on Federal pay, leave, and work scheduling policies, please visit www.opm.gov/oca/index.asp. Employees should contact their agency human resources offices for assistance.
cc: Chief Human Capital Officers
Human Resources Directors