Agency leaders, advocates see tipping point on telework

Federal officials, telework experts say government is ripe for making telework routine

After more than a decade of talk, the federal government may be ready to leap into telework.

At a town hall event hosted by the advocacy group Telework Exchange, federal officials and telework experts said the government is ripe for making telework a normal part of its work routine, rather than a neglected relative of normal on-site productivity.

The fact that a compromise version of the Telework Improvements Act of 2010 passed the Senate during the previous week didn’t hurt the upbeat predictions of the speakers. That measure, for the first time, would require agencies to develop detailed telework plans and authorize all eligible employees to telework 20 percent of their working hours.

Speakers at the event included Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry and General Services Administration Administrator Martha Johnson.

Related stories:

Senate passes compromise telework bill

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Johnson, speaking on productivity gains, said efforts at GSA have shown a “200-1,500 percent return on the initial technological investment after adopting a telework system.” Telework also cut employee fuel costs by about 39 percent, according to one study Johnson cited.

Johnson mentioned telework’s promise of cost savings and greater productivity, and said it is crucial to the government’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gases.

Telework “significantly reduces our own footprint both in employee commuting and in office space requirements,” Johnson said. “It also teaches us how to position our governmentwide policies to best reduce the footprint across government.”

“My first GSA experience was teleworking,” Johnson remarked, in reference to her first days in office. “I was sworn in by phone from my kitchen during the blizzard last winter. So, telework is still ‘who I am,’ and it is also for GSA about ‘who we are.’ ”

The telework bill is in the House, and the Telework Exchange and other backers are optimistic it will pass before year's end.


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Reader comments

Wed, Oct 20, 2010

Teleworking is great idea, it will allow government employees to have less stress as they work from home. Also managers won't be allowed to justify such a big staff because of better production from a smaller staff created by telework.

Fri, Oct 15, 2010

I worked for many years full time from home using telework. It was a successful situation for both me and the agency. I performed better, was able to transmit files throughout the region, was able to teleconference via telephone or computer, was even able to train others via computer. There were not any negatives for either side and the government saved a lot of money because I paid for my home office 100%. In this day of technology, it is foolish not to allow it - the main stumbling block was always 'upper management'.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010 Scott

I have found that most people actually get more work done from home due to fewer distractions. If we truly want to cut cost and promote economy of effort especially during times of natural disaster or health considerations this is it. I'm not saying send all the fed work force home but this apprears to have more pros than cons.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010

Since almost 100% of what I do is on computer, teleworking would be a big plus for me. However, the "dinosaur" supervisors in my agency don't "trust" us to actually work if were at home, and they don't support teleworking. The agency does allow it for their Washington DC employees, but no one else. Oh well, nothing we can do about it.

Thu, Oct 14, 2010

Give me a break, with all of the anti-government, government is not working, government is too big rhetoric, some agency is promoting this! It is asinine to take this seriously! Work for an agency that will only let it happen for certain people at upper echelons of the organization.

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