Teleworking group logs on

Emphasizing the benefits of working from home, a software consortium made up of government and private organizations launched a new group that will evaluate how to make teleworking a reality.

The Software Productivity Consortium — whose government affiliates include NASA, several Defense Department agencies and the Federal Aviation Administration — spelled out the goals of its new Telework Consortium at a kickoff meeting late last month.

The Telework Consortium will develop and test telework best practices, share them with companies and agencies and work to encourage reluctant employers to embrace the concept. It will create a Telework Center to showcase and test technologies for effective teleworking, and it will provide performance data, training and other tools to its members.

Many employers fear that having employees work from home will be costly, result in lower productivity and prevent personal contact that people enjoy, consortium officials said at the meeting.

However, organizations can actually save money (e.g., through lower real estate costs) and workers can be just as productive collaborating remotely, using the right technology, they said. Worker morale and retention may also increase.

Teleworking also spreads workers geographically, which makes resources more secure than when they are concentrated in one location, said William Mularie, former director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Information Systems Office. That fact was made clear by the Sept. 11 attacks. Werner Schaer, president of the Software Productivity Consortium, added that providing ultra-high bandwidth capable of transmitting high-quality video is crucial to expanding the practice of teleworking.

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