Telework Week 2014 aims higher

The Mobile Work Exchange wants to exceed 2013's record number of 112,000 federal employee participants.

 
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Telework Week 2014, the Mobile Work Exchange's fourth annual global effort to encourage telework at federal agencies and other organizations, kicked off Dec. 3 and already boasts close to 1,000 individual pledges.

The 2014 event, which will take place March 3-7, aims to exceed this year's high-water mark of 136,000 individuals who teleworked at least one day during the designated week. Of that number, 112,000 were federal employees -- a total that Mobile Work Exchange General Manager Cindy Auten would like to see eclipsed in a few months.

"There are certain elements the federal government can't afford not to do. Telework is one of them," Auten said. "We expect to push Telework Week to the limits in 2014 [and are] calling on federal employees and every agency to look at how telework can fit into their agency's mission and practice what they preach."

The launch of Telework Week 2014 coincides with the third anniversary of the Telework Enhancement Act of 2010, which requires federal agencies to create policies designed to maximize telework use. At the time, telework was more of a buzzword than a best practice, but Auten said most agencies have begun to incorporate telework in ways that benefit their missions.

More federal employees are teleworking than ever before, and most agencies have policies that help them manage the major changes in workforce management that telework necessitates.

"The Telework Enhancement Act has made telework more consistent across government, and it's harder to find agencies that aren't really adhering to it," Auten said. "We're starting to see returns on investment [and] getting numbers on it, and while you can't run a telework program without challenges, it's certainly sparked leadership that is chipping away at them."

She added that Telework Week gives agencies a chance to test new programs. Last year, for example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pledged that 3,300 of its 5,500 full-time employees would work remotely on one to three days during Telework Week. FEMA officials wanted to test the agency's capabilities and get a sense of the savings telework might provide. By participating in Telework Week, they were able to determine that FEMA employees could save $2 million annually in transit costs if 20 percent of them teleworked on a regular basis.

"Telework Week is a great opportunity for agencies that haven't been part of the program before to try it out," Auten said. "It's a great way to see case studies and uncover new gems."

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