GSA sets new goal for telework: 50 percent by 2010

Determined to lead the government’s telework push from the front, General Services Administration Administrator Lurita Doan said today that her agency would develop plans to let 50 percent of eligible GSA employees telework at least one day a week by 2010.

“It is an enormously ambitious goal, but like all ambitious goals this is one that I know we can achieve,” Doan said.

Speaking at the 2007 Telework Exchange Town Hall Meeting in Washington, Doan said GSA wants to increase the number of GSA teleworkers to 20 percent by the end of 2008 and 40 percent by the end of 2009, before reaching the 50 percent goal a year later.

Currently, about 10 percent of eligible employees at GSA telework. “That is not sufficient,” Doan said.

Doan said that GSA would mount an aggressive internal campaign to overcome obstacles to the plan, including resistance from managers who worry that telework will result in reduced quality and quantity of work.

But outside research and her own experience have consistently shown that teleworkers perform equal to or better than office-bound workers, she said.

One way to overcome management resistance is getting managers to experience telework for themselves, Doan said.

“Many of those who argue the loudest against telework are actually those who have never tried it,” she said. Studies “have shown that managers are far more receptive when they telework themselves.”

As a result, GSA will strongly encourage its managers to try using one of GSA’s 14 telework centers in the Washington metropolitan region, she said.

Across the government, few managers have sampled telework via the GSA centers, which are available to all federal employees, Doan said.

“There are 180-plus government agencies and all those agencies have managers, but only 40 managers have signed up to at least look at or experience telework,” she said.

Telework also will help government managers lure talented workers, Doan said.

“It’s a stupendous way to attract a world-class workforce,” she said. To that end, all new job openings at GSA will state whether telework is an option for those positions, she added.

The GSA administrator also touted wider benefits of telework, including reduced energy use, fewer greenhouse gas emissions, less traffic, less U.S. dependence on foreign oil, increased worker productivity and savings for taxpayers.

Doan said that to lead by example she planned to begin teleworking herself, about two days a month, depending on her travel schedule.

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