Video: More feds are teleworking, report says

Monday - 5/7/2012, 1:09pm EDT

More people are teleworking in the Washington, D.C., region, and the federal workforce is leading the way. That's what data in a report released last week by Telework Exhange, a public-private partnership advocating for an increased adoption of teleworking, said.

The data was based on the results of Telework Week 2012, which was sponsored by the Telework Exchange and Cisco.

"Ninety-four percent of the pledges worked for the federal government," said Cindy Auten, general manager of the Telework Exchange, during the opening remarks of the May 2 Focus on Telework Town Hall Meeting at the Washington Convention Center. "Just to give you a benchmark from the 2011 program, that was an increase of 97 percent, so the federal government is really leading the way on telework here."

During the week of March 5-9, the 71,324 people who pledged to telework collectively saved:

  • 6,413,006 miles,
  • 251,774 hours,
  • 3,022 tons of pollutants, and
  • $5,651,890 on commuting costs.

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The positive results weren't just measured in dollars and cents either.

"Organizations saw improved productivity and increased continuity of operations," Auten said. "71 percent of organizations saw improved productivity through Telework Week. This was up from 60 percent last year."

According to Auten, only 1 in 5 organizations encountered challenges during Telework Work, which was down from 1 in 3 in 2011.

"If you think your management might be more open to encouraging telework today versus one year ago, that's what we saw too from the program," Auten told audience members. "62 percent found that their management is more encouraging of telework than one year ago."

If all Telework Week pledges teleworked for just one year, she said, they would save $282 million in commuting costs alone. If all eligible federal employees teleworked twice a week for one year, they would save $5 billion in commuting costs.

Challenges remain for federal teleworkers

Despite the promise these figures present, Auten acknowledged that challenges do remain for some agencies in their move toward establishing a wider adoption of telework.

"From an IT standpoint, the conversation falls along the lines of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) versus government furnished," Auten said. "Obviously, security is always top of the mind. But the real challenges are in the culture, the change of telework, how do you ensure managers can manage the workforce and feel comfortable in that environment?"

Even so, Auten said she expects to see greater adoption of telework and more pilot programs to explore different technologies and how telework helps agencies meet their mission.

"The goal for the Telework Exchange has always been to provide real, hard metrics to make the case for telework," said Stephen O'Keeffe, executive director of the Telework Exchange. "Not just talking about work/life balance issues, but also talking about productivity and outcomes, which are also critical to agencies and to taxpayers."

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