Once Upon a Time in Teleworkland

Thursday - 6/17/2010, 6:18pm EDT

A long, long time ago (1989) in a place far away (San Francisco), teleworking as an emergency response was born.

The ground shook. It bucked. It heaved up and down. And when it was done, the earthquake had reduced the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regional office to rubble.

The 700 hundred federal employees suddenly had nowhere to work.

"They would never return to their former office building, and it would not be until a year later before they would move into new facilities," said a GSA article from 2000.

What to do?

They had always planned to set up a work-at-home program to resume operations after a disaster, but no one expected a disaster quite like this.

So they all pulled together and worked through the problems well enough to please both "internal and external evaluators."

One of the evaluators was so happy, he wrote that "for EPA, the most important outcome of the disaster was a positive shift in perspective: They learned to manage by results instead of by counting noses."

And the little work-at-home program grew up to be a permanent part of the family.

The end.