Public servants are far less likely to work from home than other workers, despite a government push to promote telecommuting.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard launched a campaign last year to double the number of employees who telework, saying ''old-fashioned'' attitudes were preventing workplaces from taking advantage of digital technology.

Ms Gillard also wanted one in eight federal bureaucrats to work mostly from home by 2020.

However, the latest State of the Service report shows the number of public servants who teleworked even occasionally fell dramatically in the past year.

While 15 per cent of government staff teleworked ''to some degree'' during the year to June 30, 2012, only 10 per cent did the following year.

Across all industries, about one in four Australian workers say they telework.

Public Service Commissioner Stephen Sedgwick said several barriers prevented public servants from working at home.

''Sometimes, it's the eyeballs effect … It's a bit difficult to put national security information in spaces where you don't know who else is in the room,'' he said.

He also said it was often harder to judge a public servant's performance by their work alone, compared with a private sector worker.

''Sales is a classic example. IBM has all its sales workforce out - they don't want them in the office, they want them knocking on doors. [IBM] can measure performance by looking at the results … If someone spends half the day on the golf course and overachieves their target, they frankly don't care.

''It's a little more difficult for us to have a set of convincing metrics around the management of performance.

''We often find we're focused on input measures - absences is a case in point. If we don't have reliable ways to remotely manage work, it becomes difficult.''

Government research published last year shows seven in 10 workers say their productivity is higher if they work outside the office, and three out of four employees say they work faster.