Official: Montgomery Co. workers should telework when Metro track work strikes

WASHINGTON — With telework being touted as an alternative during Metro’s maintenance plan, one Montgomery County leader says the county should be practicing what it preaches.

“We can’t just preach teleworking,” Councilman Roger Berliner said Thursday during a briefing with Metro’s Chief Operating Officer Jack Requa and Montgomery County Department of Transportation Director Al Roshdieah.

“We have to demonstrate that we, too, are prepared to encourage people to telework,” Berliner said.

Metro’s track work plan in Montgomery County begins Aug. 1 and continues through Nov. 1. The county is expected to feel the biggest impact in October, when service between NOMA and Fort Totten stations will be suspended.

As the county braces for the impact, county leaders are asking the public to find alternative ways to work. Federal transit leaders have been pushing for telework as an alternative. But Berliner said more needs to be done on the local level.

During the briefing, Berliner asked Roshdieh for figures showing how many county workers were currently teleworking and also asked what the county could do to encourage more teleworking — not just during Metro’s track work.

He said he detected a reluctance among managers to allow county employees to work from home.

“I think there is a traditional view among many managers that if [they] don’t see these people working, [they] can’t trust that they are working,” Berliner said.

Sande Brecher, chief of the county’s commuter services section, said one of the obstacles is that many county positions — such as bus operators — aren’t well-suited for telework.

Brecher disagreed with Berliner’s assertion that managers aren’t encouraging telework and said that when the county’s department human resources reached out to department heads, there was a “a fair amount of receptivity” across the board.

“The good news is that the county government has just recently instituted a telework program initiative,” said Brecher, though she was unable to say how many county employees were taking advantage of the program. “That is a fairly new program.”

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