OPM wants more teleworking

New strategic plan says telework can improve employees' lives

Teleworking by federal employees could increase by 50 percent under goals set by the Office of Personnel Management, according to a new strategic plan released by the agency.

Approximately 102,900 federal employees currently do some teleworking. OPM officials want to increase the number by 50 percent of eligible employees by 2011, according to the plan released March 15. The strategic plan sets goals from 2010 through 2015 and was drafted as a road map for federal employees.

“To improve the results of federal programs and services, the government must invest in its most valuable resource – its employees,” the plan states, calling for better training, alternative work schedules, employee assistance programs, teleworking and more.

About 10 percent of the federal employee population is eligible to telework now, according to Cindy Auten, general manager of the Telework Exchange, a group that promotes teleworking. Increasing the number could benefit the government and the workers, she said.

“If we can increase this number by 50 percent, we’re well on our way to making telework a mainstream operating procedure in the federal government,” she said. “As far as we know, this is the first significant telework increase recommended by OPM, highlighting Director John Berry’s dedication to work/life balance.”

She said the blizzard of 2010 in Washington was a forced telework experience for many federal managers. It provided many organizations and agencies with the opportunity to test their business continuity plans and telework programs.

Auten said the event also showed the potential value in teleworking.

“If Uncle Sam provided his workers with laptops, the cost of equipment would be covered by the estimated $100 million a day the government loses when offices in Washington close,” she said.

About the Author

Doug Beizer is a staff writer for Federal Computer Week.

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