Despite a slow start, federal agencies increasingly embrace the business and work-life benefits of toiling outside the office.
Two studies examine technology challenges that may pose barriers to mainstreaming federal telework and tell public managers how to overcome them.
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management today presented to Congress its annual telework report, a look at the shape of telecommuting habits of federal employees and their agencies.
Data included in the report, The Status of Telework in the Federal Government, provides a comparative view of agency telework participation. The report presents data provided by Executive Branch agencies for calendar year 2005.
In addition, the data can help agency leaders, managers and human resources professionals plan future activities, particularly as they relate to complying with the Bush Administration’s guidance to incorporate telework into their Continuity of Operations plans to keep vital agency operations running during man-made or natural disasters, such as pandemic influenza.
The report indicates a growing, overall acceptance by federal employees and their managers of this workplace flexibility tool. However, due to more-stringent reporting criteria for this latest report – versus the report for calendar year 2004 – the number of teleworkers declined by more than 21,000 employees.
Still, by any measure, telework is being adopted, with the number of federal teleworkers nearly doubling to 140,694 in 2004, from 72,844 in 2001.
Source: Wayne Hall, State News, Vol. 50 no. 3, March 2007
Available technology and a more mobile culture are changing the way Americans work. Studies have found that those who work from home are actually more productive than those working in an office.
Source: Mary Branham Dusenberry, State News, Vol. 50 no. 3, March 2007
States [are] open to employees telecommuting, but there are obstacles.
Technology now allows many people to work from anywhere, not just the typical office setting. Many state governments offering this benefit to their employees have found telecommuting provides benefits beyond the original reasons, often traffic and air quality. But growing the program in many states has run into problems.
Source: Charles Gerena, Region Focus, Vol. 11 no. 1, Winter 2007
Telecommuting hasn’t become the commonplace work alternative its advocates anticipated. Still, the flexibility it offers has helped a significant number of companies and employees.