Telework: The key is being connected, not being watched

Half of General Services Administration employees didn’t come into the office last week. But before you accuse them of slacking, note that they all worked -- remotely.

Administrator Martha Johnson wrote in a March 12 blog post that 6,400 GSA employees participated in national Telework Week, held March 5 through Mach 9, working from home, shared workplaces and other offices than their own.

“Technology now lets us be more mobile, and the work we do has changed; it relies less on being watched and more on being connected and getting the work done,” she said.

Nearly half of GSA employees telework “at least occasionally,” according to Johnson. In October 2011, the agency unveiled a policy that infuses an even more flexible work environment for the majority of its employees. The policy also promotes more synergetic work. Instead of sitting “all by ourselves in an office,” work will be more collaborative, said Johnson, when the policy was unveiled.

In her March 12 blog post, Johnson cited the ability to work through natural disasters; greater work-life balance; and reduced carbon footprint among the advantages telework offers. For GSA specifically, telework has helped shrink the agency’s physical space in the Washington, D.C., region. Johnson said after renovations of the headquarters in downtown D.C. are complete, the upgraded building will feature shared workspaces.

A collaborative work environment means employees no longer have traditional offices. Alternative officing, as laid out by GSA’s Mobility and Telework Policy, replaces dedicated workspaces with desk sharing, hoteling and hot desking.

“When our employees need to work from the [new] building, they will always be able to find a space to work at, but we’re taking steps to ensure our workforce is more mobile so we can be productive from anywhere,” she said.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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