Telework Week expected to draw 100,000-plus feds

Pledges for 2014 to work remotely have already exceeded last year's.

Telework

Telework Week 2013 was big. Mobile Work Exchange's 2014 Telework Week event is going to be bigger.

This year's effort runs March 3-7 -- and the fourth annual event has already topped last year's 136,000 pledges, each from an individual vowing to telework at least one day during the week.

The event drew 39,000 pledges in its first year, and its explosion in popularity is a sure sign that telework is becoming a serious driver in government, according to Mobile Work Exchange General Manager Cindy Auten.

"It's constantly growing in importance in agencies," Auten said.

Telework Week serves several purposes for federal employees, who represent the vast majority of its participants, and for the agencies that employ them.

For one thing, feds can participate from the comfy confines of their own homes. Feds who telework tend to be happy about the work-life balance it affords them, Auten said, a statement backed by the Office of Personnel Management's latest Viewpoint Survey. As agencies continue to face budget crunches and the occasional shutdown, federal employees take more than their fair share of criticism. Increased telework initiatives in government may well play a large role in the government retaining its existing talent, Auten said.

"Telework is a factor driving up performance," Auten said. "The way that leaders lead recruitment and retention efforts, telework has become such a strong benefit. You can't put a price on someone's time."

And while feds telework over the first week of March, agencies can test their systems, either for disaster preparedness purposes or to get a better grasp of metrics that telework could bring them. For example, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pledged 3,300 of its 5,500 full-time employees to telework during the 2013 event, to test their IT systems' readiness and to determine the financial incentives to utilizing telework more often. The end results were hard numbers: FEMA employees could save $2 million in transit costs alone if 20 percent of them teleworked regularly.

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