Availability and Accessibility: The Adoption and Implementation of Telework in U.S. Federal Agencies
Thursday, November 12, 2015
Riverfront South/Central (Hyatt Regency Miami)
*Names in bold indicate Presenter
As the demographic composition of the U.S. federal workforce has rapidly changed in the past few decades, federal agencies have begun to provide several work-life programs to accommodate employees’ changing needs. Telework is one of such efforts, which aims at providing employees with greater flexibility in work time and location. Especially, the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010 sets clear expectations for federal telework programs and provides guidance to federal agencies in adopting and implementing telework arrangements. Telework programs are now widely available for federal employees due to various efforts of the government and legislators including the Act. However, there still exists significant inter-agency variation in employees’ telework participation rates, which indicates that telework programs might not be entirely accessible to employees. Previous research on telework focused primarily on the effects of telework programs on employee attitudes and behaviors, but relatively little is known about what factors explain an agency’s actual use of telework. In this study, we propose that the inter-agency variation in the actual use of telework might be because each agency has discretion to determine its own telework eligibility criteria and allow its employees to participate in telework programs. Thus, it is important to examine what factors influence the actual use of telework (i.e., the telework participation rate) in U.S. federal agencies. Specifically, we intend to investigate the effects of a variety of job, managerial, and organizational characteristics such as agency size, budget, the proportions of female, disabled, and full-time employees, task complexity in the agency, and the degree of politicization. Data for empirical analysis will be drawn from multiple sources including the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s FedScope, Call for Telework Data, Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, and Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance. By examining the antecedents of an agency’s adoption and implementation of telework programs, we hope to extend the previous literature on telework by moving the focus from the consequences of telework programs to the potential determinants. Our findings will contribute to both research and practice on telework by offering a better understanding of the effective management of telework programs in public organizations.