Workforce

Telework Week expected to draw 100,000-plus feds

Telework

Telework Week 2013 was big. Mobile Work Exchange's 2014 Telework Week event is going to be bigger.

This year's effort runs March 3-7 -- and the fourth annual event has already topped last year's 136,000 pledges, each from an individual vowing to telework at least one day during the week.

The event drew 39,000 pledges in its first year, and its explosion in popularity is a sure sign that telework is becoming a serious driver in government, according to Mobile Work Exchange General Manager Cindy Auten.

"It's constantly growing in importance in agencies," Auten said.

Telework Week serves several purposes for federal employees, who represent the vast majority of its participants, and for the agencies that employ them.

For one thing, feds can participate from the comfy confines of their own homes. Feds who telework tend to be happy about the work-life balance it affords them, Auten said, a statement backed by the Office of Personnel Management's latest Viewpoint Survey. As agencies continue to face budget crunches and the occasional shutdown, federal employees take more than their fair share of criticism. Increased telework initiatives in government may well play a large role in the government retaining its existing talent, Auten said.

"Telework is a factor driving up performance," Auten said. "The way that leaders lead recruitment and retention efforts, telework has become such a strong benefit. You can't put a price on someone's time."

And while feds telework over the first week of March, agencies can test their systems, either for disaster preparedness purposes or to get a better grasp of metrics that telework could bring them. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pledged 3,300 of its 5,500 full-time employees to telework during the 2013 event, to test their IT systems' readiness and to determine the financial incentives to utilizing telework more often. The end results were hard numbers: FEMA employees could save $2 million in transit costs alone if 20 percent of them teleworked regularly.

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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Reader comments

Tue, Mar 25, 2014 Nathalie Quebec City

My gosh! I have been exclusively working from home for years now and with today's technologies, when made available by the employer, there is no way I can play hooky. My boss and collegues have me on video in a moment's notice. 3 tools are necessary (1) a mobile device (2) collaborative tools (3) cloud based apps... Provided by the employer of course. The future of true "world's best" performances will lie in the capacity to manage based on objectives atteined vs time at work (some people do nothing at work from 8 to 5). I am given truck loads of work to do and I get it done, that's is how my manager know i'm working :0) Don't do things simply you've been doing them for years. What has worked in the past my not work in the future.

Tue, Mar 4, 2014

100,000+ Feds emailing their contractors at all hours to do more work so the Feds look good.

Mon, Mar 3, 2014 Jon

So FEMA employees could save over $2M in transit costs. As long as they buy $4M in BYOD devices. If telework is playing a large role in retaining existing employee talent, we're all doomed. Last week there was a telework day. Tried to have a teleconference. No luck. Folks "balancing" their work/life weren't available. Played hooky with no managers checking in on them. The managers were also likely "balancing" their work/life. Sad. And emerging countries (like China) are more than happy to actually work 6-7 days a week to out compete us. America needs to learn how to work again. Getting up and coming to work forces discipline and appreciation for compensation. Some may see this as gloomy, but we'd better stop taking our position in the world for granted. We didn't get to be the best just by having more ability to balance work/life. We got to be the best by working out butts off, not by playing hooky and touting it as a positive thing. We are a rich nation and we can afford this for some time, but when the time comes for us to once again really work, we won't remember how.

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