Telework Distribution Action Plan
Dale A. Smith
Helms School of Government, Liberty University
CJUS830: Criminal Justice Organizational Conflict
Dr. Gary Killam
October 9, 2022
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations, including the federal government, were unprepared for a remote workforce. The government could have required essential employees to continue to report to work. However, many agencies chose to establish telework for employees to minimize the dangers associated with the pandemic. These efforts offered some benefits to the agency by establishing a continuity of operations plan not previously available before the pandemic. As the pandemic subsided, the government sought to return to a pre-pandemic environment with employees reporting to the worksite. The first conflict arose with the change to an on-site work requirement. Many employees experienced the benefits of working from home in the form of a better work/life balance, time savings, and monetary savings in transportation costs. Social exchange theory states that when a benefit like telework is provided to employees, they will reciprocate with improved morale and performance (Lee & Kim, 2018). Employees also felt they were providing a benefit to the employer by continuing operations during the pandemic and should receive future consideration for telework.
Raines (2020) states that reductions in employee morale can lead to employee turnover, poor performance, and presentism (at work but not working). Morale and job satisfaction at the agency have plummeted since returning to work due to an unequal distribution of telework. Many contractors are teleworking full-time while others are reporting to the office. Some sections within the division are teleworking part-time, while others are not permitted to telework. These same employees teleworked for nearly two years during the pandemic. The 2010 Telework Enhancement Act encourages telework for federal agencies if approved by the agency head with a determination that there is adequate technology and performance review available (Kwon & Jeon, 2020). The authors also note that there should be a clear policy for eligibility. The division does not have a clear policy on telework, and executives have delegated the decision-making to the unit level within the organization. Because there is not a clear policy about when telework is appropriate, a dispute resolution system is nearly impossible to establish because there are no guidelines about who is eligible. The Administrative Dispute Resolutions Act of 1990 authorized the federal government to use alternative dispute resolution techniques (Nabatchi & Stanger, 2013). Mediation would be a valuable technique to resolve disputes arising from decisions regarding telework allowance after a policy is in place. The agency also has an office of an ombudsman that could investigate disputes once there is a process in place for the determination.
Confusion often leads to conflict. In Acts, Luke describes such an incident during Paulâ€™s missionary travel in Ephesus, saying, â€œThe assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were thereâ€ (The NIV Study Bible,Â 1995, Acts 19:32). Raines (2020) describes the importance of listening and communicating to resolve conflict. Communication and transparency are currently lacking in the division concerning the eligibility and distribution of telework. Confusion about the distribution is negatively impacting many employees.
Kwon, M. & Jeon, S. H. (2020). Do Leadership Commitment and Performance-Oriented Culture Matter for Federal Teleworker Satisfaction with Telework Programs?Â Review of Public Personnel Administration,Â 40(1), 36â€“55. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1177/0734371X18776049
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