Agencies save much more than they spend in equipping employees to work from home, but management support is still often lacking.
Savings from infrastructure investment in telework would greatly offset the costs, according to the General Services Administration’s Telework Technology Costs Study, which was completed with the support of Booz Allen Hamilton.
An agency with 50,000 employees that invests $15.6 million in a telework infrastructure would receive $31.1 million in cost benefits, according to the study.
“It’s not costing as much as everyone thinks because costs are not visible at the upper management levels,” said Theresa Noll, senior telework program analyst at GSA.
Noll presented the findings today at a Town Hall Meeting sponsored by the Telework Exchange in Washington, D.C.
“Departments are not making telework part of the strategic vision for their organizations, but rather leaving telework decisions to the individual agencies and offices," she said.
The seven-month study, begun in September 2005, based its savings projections on the assumption that various types of solutions would be used to allow half of an agency's employees to telework.
Many federal workers already are successfully telecommuting thanks to Internet access and secure connections, the report states. It includes several recommendations to speed the adoption of telework policies, including melding the initiatives with other information technology programs to make a stronger case for funding.
The report also finds that one of the major reasons agencies have been slow to adopt telework programs is because managers are sometimes reluctant to embrace it. They like to see their employees at work throughout the day, said Raymond Kent, an associate at Booz Allen.
Telework is a key plank in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s continuity of operations planning initiatives, which require agencies to have remote work infrastructures and policies in place before disaster strikes.
Noll believes telework is enough of an issue that it should be considered a major aspect of IT funding. “I’d like to see telework as an item in the IT capital planning process,” she said.