Who Should Pay for Telework?

Employees may need to shoulder extra costs, MSPB says.

Several questions remain for federal agencies implementing telework and bring-your-own-device -- or BYOD -- programs, including whether federal employees should be reimbursed for a portion of their costs in participating in those programs. In light of such questions, it may behoove federal agencies to begin forging partnerships with their employees regarding funding for telework tools, according to a new report by the Merit Systems Protection Board.

MSPB notes that each organization’s situation and its optimal solutions for telework are unique and that the ways agencies support and fund telework programs may evolve over time as budget appropriations and work demands evolve. But, according to MSPB, some things should remain constant across all federal agencies, including a realistic understanding of what tools agencies should provide, and preparation on the part of teleworkers to work with agencies, IT staff and supervisors to identify the best telework technology and solutions for their roles and jobs.

“This may require willingness from teleworkers to be partially or fully responsible for funding resultant technology and equipment to support their teleworking,” the report states.

In addition, agencies should be prepared to take the necessary steps to provide employees with technology and tools to enable telework, keeping in mind that much of that technology can be phased in during regular equipment and technology refreshes.  This gradual approach would naturally spread out the costs for telework technology over a longer period of time, MSPB noted.

“It could be advantageous for organizations to enter into a partnership with teleworkers regarding the funding of telework tools,” the report states. “Just as telework provides flexibility in where work is accomplished, it also requires flexibility to fund the associated technology and equipment that makes it possible.”