Congress drives the point home on telework

Tuesday - 7/20/2010, 6:00am EDT

Having more people work from home -- more often -- has been a goal for the federal workforce for quite some time. But the numbers don't support the ambition, as telework has slipped in recent years.

Congress is trying to do something about that.

The House approved a bill that would create government-wide regulations for teleworking and instruct each federal agency to come up with policies to promote the practice.

A big proponent of the bill, Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., says teleworking helps recruit and retain a better work force, improves worker morale, reduces traffic congestion and the government's carbon footprint and ensures continuity of operations.

Another sponsor of the bill, Rep. Frank Wolf, R-Va., agrees.

"There's nothing magical about strapping yourself into a metal box and driving 25 and 35 miles a day to a place that's sitting before a laptop when you can do it at home."

The Office of Personnel Management said there were about 103,000 employees teleworking at least once a month in 2008, up slightly from the previous year but down from 140,000 in 2004.

The Senate has passed similar legislation.